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Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

This Blog will not fall to outside hacks from anyone, especially insecure public officials afraid of their constituents criticism.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Illegal occupancy will cost Osborns $122,375

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 19, 2010
Illegal occupancy will cost Atkinson couple $122,375

By Cara Hogan The Eagle Tribune Sun Dec 19, 2010, 12:30 AM EST

ATKINSON — It cost Margaret and Daniel Osborn more than $500 a day for each of the 223 days they lived in their 8 Valcat Lane home.

The Osborns must pay the town of Atkinson $122,375 in civil penalties for living in their home without an occupancy certificate, Rockingham County Superior Judge Kenneth McHugh ruled Thursday. The couple also must pay the attorney fees the town incurred fighting the matter in court.

The town ordered the Osborns to install a sprinkler system in their home because it was not easily accessible by fire and other emergency vehicles. A building permit issued in May 2008 specified the necessity for a sprinkler system.

But the Osborns didn't install one and moved in anyway, occupying the house from Nov. 30, 2009 until July 10 this year.

McHugh ordered the Osborns to pay statutory penalties of $275 for the first offense for living there without the certificate and $550 for each subsequent offense — incurred daily.

"They didn't have the necessary occupancy permit," town attorney Sumner Kalman said Friday. "The town sent them a cease-and-desist notice as of Dec. 14 (2009), and they had five days to conform to regulations and they ignored that. The town told them again and again to comply, but it took until the spring of 2010 for the town to go for legal action. It was a long process and it's not like the town didn't give the Osborns enough time."

The Osborns received a $5,700 cost estimate for a sprinkler system in May 2008. But they tried to avoid the need for such a system by building a new driveway instead, according to court documents. A proposed driveway plan, with a grade of 23 percent, was submitted to the town in October 2008. The town immediately deemed that plan as "not acceptable."

The Osborns did have two avenues of appeal, McHugh noted in his decision, but did not take advantage of either one of them. Margaret Osborn testified she wasn't aware of the right to appeal, although she was a member of the Atkinson Zoning Board of Adjustment for two years while that board considered her request to build the home.

Fire Chief Michael Murphy wrote in May 2008 that a sprinkler system should be a condition of a building permit. The town building inspector adopted Murphy's recommendation and made it a construction requirement.

McHugh called the case an issue of "he said, she said," with arguments back and forth between Margaret Osborn and Murphy, along with other town officials.

"The important thing in this case is there was a disagreement between Mrs. Osborn and the chief between what was said in a meeting," Kalman said. "Only one could be believed and it was quite obvious the judge believed Chief Murphy. Mrs. Osborn's story was just not reasonable. It was a good decision."

The Osborns could not be reached for comment Friday. Their attorney, Bernard Campbell, said he had not read the decision and could not comment on it.

If the Osborns install a sprinkler and have the house inspected, they could qualify for an occupancy permit and move in legally, Kalman said.

Town Manager Phil Smith said he is glad the case is completed.

"We want to put it behind us and move onto other things," he said.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Atkinson man guilty of hiring illegal immigrants

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 15, 2010
Atkinson man guilty of hiring illegal immigrants

By Doug Ireland The Eagle Tribune Wed Dec 15, 2010, 12:28 AM EST

ATKINSON — A 53-year-old local man has pleaded guilty to employing illegal immigrants at his Dunkin' Donuts stores in Maine.

George Valvanis of Atkinson pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland to a single count of recruiting or hiring illegal immigrants unauthorized and one count of lying on an immigration document, according to U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II of Maine.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's homeland security investigations.

Valvanis managed several Dunkin' Donuts stores in the Portland area and employed 18 illegal immigrants between 2001 and 2009, according to court records.

He faces a maximum prison term of five years on the charge of lying on a document and six months on the hiring charge.

"ICE HSI will hold employers who knowingly hire an illegal work force accountable for their actions," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston.

"Our office will continue to investigate and find employers who flout our laws and hire illegal labor in order to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation's lawful work force," Foucart said in a statement. "ICE HSI will use enforcement tools, civil and criminal, when appropriate to bring about compliance."

Valvanis is to be sentenced in April by U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Report from the Courtroom 2: Davis v. Osborns, et al.

For the past two days, The Osborns have been fighting in Court to retain the driveway which they built across Carol Davis' land.

First up at bat was James LaValle, the contractor who not only surveyed the land upon which they built the driveway, but he is also the man who put the right of way on Carol Davis plot plan back in 1995 for then owner Valenti. In Atkinson v. Osborn, Maggie claimed alternatively that "the Town" had told her that she "owned the deeded right of way", "her lawyer" told her that she "owned the deeded right of way", and that "Mr. LaValle" told her that she "owned the deeded right of way". Maggie's only problem today is that Mr. LaValle testified that he "did not tell Mrs. Osborn that she owned the deeded right of way". Sorry Mags, Somebody is lying, and it doesn't look good for you. After Maggie backed off, in Court, her oft tearful claim that she owned a deeded right of way across Mrs. Davis land, she claimed that it was a "road of aged". The only problem for Maggie was that In order for it to be a "road of aged" or a "road by prescription" it had to have been "in regular and constant public use" for a minimum of 20 years. Mr. Lavalle testified that he did the original design in 1995, in addition he admitted that the original road, Valcat ln., was not shown on any of his plans for the driveway. Again, Sorry Mags.

Next up was Paul Shea, neighbor to the osborn's who was there to testify to the "history of the land" up there. Unfortunately for him Davis' attorney questioned him on his investment in the Osborn's illicit driveway. It seems that Mr. Shea ponied up $14,000.00 to invest in the driveway, after Maggie advised him that he had a deeded, right of way through there. Again, too bad for the osborns, under cross examination, mr, Shea admitted that he had no knowledge of any right of way existing there until Maggie told him about it, he further testified that he consulted no attorney, or advisor, instead investng his money on the word of Margaret Osborn alone. Sorry, Paul should have bought Enron stock.

Last up today was Maggie Osborn. Maggie NOW claimed that she notified Mrs. Davis up front about the driveway she intended to build and Mrs. Davis had no problem with it. Of course this flies in the face of her admission at the ZBA that she had forgot to notify Mrs. Davis of the meeting. Another lie? Maggie then had to backpedal, when asked to show where on HER DEED, she was granted access to Mrs. Davis land. (cue the crickets)

Shortly after this exchange the Judge pulled the attornies into chambers, when they emerged he told the Court that he would rule on this case but first he wanted the parties to get together and try to work out a settlement. He cautioned the parties that although he would issue a ruling in this case, his court was not the lottery and no one should expect to get rich there, Mrs. davis is the only party with a claim.

the two sides have 2 weeks to file their closing arguments, then if no settlement is reached he will rule.

Question is: What will the Town then do, when The Osborn's lose their driveway, THAT was the ONLY thing that allowed them to build a 2,600 sq.ft. home on that site, Without that the site would only support a 1,400 sq.ft. home.,and not the 4,400 sq.ft. McMansion that sits there now.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Report from the Courtroom: Atkinson v. Osborns

Yes, although it is not known to most the Town has been in court twice in the last week against the Osborn's. This stems from the eviction Order obtained by the Town this summer against the Osborn's. The Osborn's are trying to do an end around the town by attempting to get the Court to rescind the eviction Order and allow them to live in the home until the issues are resolved "because it is the Christmas Season".

Maggie, in her Court testimony claimed to be "homeless", And Town Counsel, Sumner Kalman dropped the ball by not following up asking her where they stay every night, which would be the home that sits at 8 valcat ln. that they were evicted from in May.

Maggie in her court testimony also claimed that "they have done everything that the town has asked of them, except for two issues, which are in dispute" those being the sprinkler system and the tearing down of the boathouse. She conveniently ignores the fact that she agreed to the sprinkler system because the town can not get a fire truck up that road because it is too steep. She also claimed that she "thought she didn't need the sprinkler system after talking to the fire chief". She re-counts the town's numerous attempts to help her with a work around, but ignores her end of the proposals, for example:

She proposed a dry hydrant drawing from the lake in lieu of sprinklers: Problem is no one has a pump that can pump the volume of water necessary to fill an 8" pipe(hydrant width) to a height of 130', (roof elevation above the lake.)

She then proposed a cistern at the top of the ridge, which she claimed would benefit her neighbors as well. This never materialized.

She then claimed to have a "deeded right of way, directly to chase island rd.". Chief Murphy told her that if she did have that, and the grade was such that he could get a pumper up there, he would work with that as soon as she provided engineered plans for it. She provided no engineered plans, but went ahead and built her driveway(which it now looks like she may lose, because she built it) across Carol Davis' land, and even after cutting through Valcat ln 8' thereby cutting off access to the lots beyond hers, the grade is still 13.6%, FAR too steep for a 63' long, 17 ton fire truck.

Maggie's lawyer, made the claim that there was no access problem for their house, because her neighbor gets his pickup up there to plow, UPS and FEDEX get up there. Once again, Sumner dropped the ball by not following this juvenile comparison up by asking the relevance in these examples to getting a 63' long, 17 ton fire truck up that hill.

Forgotten also in Maggie's cloak of victimhood was the fact that the town ONLY gave her permission to build a 2,600 sq.ft. home because she claimed ownership of a direct right of way to Chase Island rd.and agreed to sprinkle, without that she would only have been allowed to build a 1,400 sq. ft. home on that site. She also forgot to mention that after submitting plans for a 2,600 sq.ft. home to get the building permit, she had Silverlake assoc. design a 4,400 sq.ft. home which is what was built.

The town, for their part does not want to "beat up" on the Osborn's during the Christmas Season, but spent the money, time and effort to go to Court to obtain an eviction Order, which they are now content to ignore. Why did they spend the money in the first place if they were not going to enforce it? The town is also faced with the hypocrisy of obtaining a court order for Mr. Mason to tear down the overbuilt portion of his home on the lake, while ignoring the VASTLY overbuilt Osborn Manse.

And our selectmen wonder why people get pissed at the high handed manner in which they selectively enforce and prosecute laws and violations in this town.