2017-07-27 / News

City responds to illegal camper

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – Code Enforcement officers from the city of Biddeford were called upon to settle a question of camping on Grayson Street. Howard Hanson’s neighbor had given a friend permission to camp on property he owned across the street from where Hanson lives and the city’s code enforcement office determined it was illegal for anyone to camp on the property.

“By city zoning ordinances they weren’t supposed to be there,” Hanson said.

Hanson said the individual camping had been there almost two weeks before leaving Wednesday, July 19. He said the same person had lived in his neighbor’s boat several years ago. Hanson was unaware of the first incident until the person staying in the boat asked to use Hanson’s wireless Internet.

“He was quite persistent then but he didn’t bother to come over this time,” Hanson said.

Hanson said he has always gotten along with his neighbor. However, Hanson became frustrated with the city’s lack of response to the issue and decided to post on Facebook. Hanson said Ward 7 Councilor Mike Ready helped speed up the process.

“He got a hold of the city manager and code enforcer and straightened things out,” Hanson said.

Ready said he knew City Manager Jim Bennett was on vacation and was able to reach out to Environmental Code Officer Brian Phinney who spoke to code enforcement.

“I wanted to follow up and make sure somebody got back to him,” Ready said.

Hanson said the city initially allowed the camping because the visitor was there with permission from Hanson’s neighbor and using the toilet and kitchen facilities inside the house. Hanson said he eventually noticed a bucket being used outside as a toilet. Hanson was concerned about sanitation and the view from his living room window, which was less than 50 yards from the makeshift campsite.

“I don’t want to have to sit in my front room and see a public toilet,” Hanson said.

Hanson said the camper never caused a disturbance but he was often coming and going at night. Hanson heard them across the street as early as 4 a.m.

“They were a little loud a couple of times but nothing excessive,” Hanson said.

Hanson’s biggest concern was that he and his wife weren’t comfortable not knowing who it was camping across the street.

Roby Fecteau, director of code enforcement, said the city had no further comment on the issue as it was resolved and the person living in the tent moved out of the city.

Contact Staff Writer Grant McPherson at news@inthecourier.com.

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