White pine trees line the beach at Lily Bay State Park on Moosehead Lake in the town of Beaver Cove in this file photo from May 2016.  Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki / BDN

BEAVER COVE, Maine — A company with a permit to build two single-family houses in Beaver Cove will have to pay a $6,150 fine and restore vegetation, leaving the Maine’s Land Use Planning Commission members to wonder how to better thwart violations such as these.

MCR Properties, LLC, a property management company based in Freeport, owns a 5.33-acre parcel with a little more than 660 feet of shore frontage on Moosehead Lake in Beaver Cove, about five miles north of Greenville in Piscataquis County.

During a site inspection in late June, planning commission staff found that MCR Properties removed or caused the removal of vegetation within a cleared area — approximately 14-20 feet wide and 100 feet long — at the high water mark of Moosehead Lake in violation of the building permit and the commission’s rules. MCR also graded topsoil without erosion control measures in place, according to the commission.

The situation shows that there are consequences to breaking the rules in Maine’s North Woods, where the commission serves as a planning and zoning authority. Commissioners said perhaps the penalty for violations should be higher to send a stronger message to rule-breakers, and the organization should find a better way to attack the problem as a whole.

“This removal of vegetation resulted in a cleared opening in the forest canopy greater than 250 square feet in size and within 100 feet of Moosehead Lake,” planning commission staff said in their recommendation.

The building permit allows MCR Properties to build two single-family houses with a bump-out, detached garage, driveway and two combined subsurface wastewater disposal systems.

The agreement between the state and the business requires MCR Properties to pay the $6,150 civil penalty, record the agreement in the Piscataquis County Registry of Deeds and submit a revegetation plan prepared with and signed by a qualified professional. The revegetation has to be finished by June 15, 2023, and the company has to submit evidence to the commission that the work was done.

Planning commission staff recommended that settlement negotiations continue for 30 days, they told commissioners during a meeting this week. If the agreement isn’t signed by then, the matter will be referred to Maine’s attorney general’s office.

“I just caution you that these are allegations right now,” Timothy Pease, who represents MCR Properties, told commissions during the meeting. “You’ve heard one side of the story, you looked at some photos and you [heard] assumptions that there are eight-foot trees involved, that there’s return on investment and the properties are going to be sold.”

Pease of Rudman Winchell in Bangor asked commissioners to hold their judgment.

Commissioners voted 8-1 to approve the staff members’ recommendation, with Perry Ellsworth voting it down.