Daniel and Roberta Aceto of Waterhouse Road built their dream home 28 years ago on 24 acres, but now they face being forced out by the state, which wants their property for a Gorham bypass.

“We’re living day to day, not knowing if we’ll be thrown out,” Roberta Aceto said on Tuesday.

State transportation officials met with the couple about three weeks ago. She said the state is having their property appraised in September, and she said the state wants to acquire their home and their landscaped acres by November. After that, the couple could have as few as 30 days to get out with a possibility of a 30-day extension.

The Acetos fear they’ll be forced to take what the state offers. They plan to hire their own appraiser. But, “It won’t matter much,” Roberta said, convinced the state’s appraisal would rule.

When the state contacted them, she said it didn’t seem as if it had much money to buy property. Earlier this year, the Acetos filed an application with the Gorham Planning Board to subdivide their property. Within two days, the state called asking to meet with the couple. She said the state doesn’t want to buy more houses to clear a path for the bypass and she doubted their subdivision plans would be approved.

“They’re calling it a protective purchase,” she said of state plans to preserve the Aceto property for part of a bypass. “It leaves us with no retirement money.”

Roberta and her husband have worked hard over the years landscaping their property. It has flower and herb gardens, a fishpond, swimming pool, shrubs and trees.

There are sentimental factors, too. The couple has 11 grandchildren and four great grandchildren who enjoy visiting. Her husband built her a wishing well several years ago for a Mothers Day gift. On a lawn behind the Acetos’ home, her mom and dad planted a tree that they brought back on a trip to Nova Scotia.

A blue spruce tree, which the couple planted as a sapling, was their Christmas tree. “It’s so disappointing to work in the gardens knowing they’ll bulldoze it over,” she said.

Her husband is 66, and she doesn’t feel they could relocate and duplicate their manicured lawns and gardens. They thought they would get to enjoy all the work over the years.

“At the age we’re at, can we do it again?” she asked rhetorically.

Their property also has a construction office for the company her son, Kevin, now runs. They once had beef cattle, a horse and a pony in a pasture.

Their secluded home and barn sits at the head of a long driveway from Waterhouse Road, and a brook runs through their field. She doubted they could relocate to a comparable property and she doesn’t want to buy in Gorham.

“We’re getting out of this town,” she said. “I’m not staying in Gorham. I’ve had enough.”

They’ve written letters and sent e-mails to state officials. “They are not going to change their minds,” she said.


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