PORTLAND – The town of Naples has sued a well-known builder and an associated holding company over the clear-cutting of a lot on Long Lake.

Town officials were unable to reach an agreement with John Chase, chief executive officer of Windham-based Chase Custom Homes and Chase Holdings LLC, which owns the waterfront lot. The town filed its complaint last week in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Naples is asking the court to require Chase and his company to implement a new restoration plan and impose fines of $2,500 for each day the environmental violations remain.

The town and the state Department of Environmental Protection began investigating the clear-cutting on the house lot in mid-March.

Chase and Chase Holdings were cited for three violations within the town’s 100-foot shoreline buffer zone: creating an opening in the forest canopy greater than 250 square feet; failing to retain a well-distributed stand of trees and other vegetation; and removing shorter vegetation and ground cover.

The state requires shoreland zoning; it is up to communities to interpret and enforce the law.

According to Naples’ complaint, the town’s code enforcement officer relied in April on a restoration plan provided by the DEP, but the plan was based on outdated information that did not comply with state law.

The town’s attorney, Geoffrey Hole, says in the lawsuit that Chase was told to put down only material to cover the ground until another restoration plan was put together, but Chase went forward with the original plan anyway.

Michael Lane, the attorney for Chase Holdings, said his client has done everything requested by the DEP and Naples’ code enforcement officer.

“We frankly think the lawsuit is ridiculous. We will answer it in due course and proceed,” Lane said.

Chase could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The complaint says that outdated information in a DEP document dated October 2007 called for a tree at least 3 feet tall to be planted for at least every 80 square feet of area cleared in violation of the shoreland zoning.

Revisions by the DEP in December 2007 removed those specific requirements but did address the characteristics of the replacement trees.

The revised information calls for at least one tree to replace each one cut in violation, planted as close as possible to the original tree; planting trees that are as close in size as possible to the originals; and using species that will grow to a similar size as the original.


Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]