Windham Planning Board Public Hearing

October 24, 2011

We (the Traffords) have failed to encourage our title insurance provider to assist in the resolution of issues related to our property, due mostly to the town's decision to be lenient on a member of the Windham Planning Board. Meanwhile, the Town of Raymond penalized the same builder for creating another illegal subdivision that was less than one-third the size.

Having spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, it is our understanding that most properties on the current Evans Ridge Road were part of an illegal subdivision in 1998 when the area was split into four parcels in one day. Then, in 2005, all new lots within one of those lots, Lot 3, became part of a second illegal subdivision. Our situation is extreme because in 2010 we discovered that most of Lot 3 was sold to us without our knowledge and then broken up and sold a second time to the builder's family and acquaintances.

Today, our home is a rental property and our title insurance policy continues to cover the land under the builder's family and not the land underneath our home. We were terrorized by some of our neighbors and their attorneys for additional problems relating to the easements needed by the back lots. We feel we deserve a clean exit from this situation. We have never received an apology from the builder. We were simply pushed out of our home for questioning why we have such an ugly paper trail to our biggest investment. We feel the builder, the title company, or the town should take this mess off our hands. There are additional easement issues that still need to be addressed. I ask, would you feel comfortable selling this home to another family?  

How can the town legally tax us — well-over $4,000 a year — for this property when we're not legally living in Windham? This happened on the town's watch, the town should help fix it.

The following is an excerpt from Attorney Sarah McDaniel to Erika Hoover of Stewart Title on 10/28/10:            

“As we discussed, I disagree with your assessment of the impact of the Town’s failure to prosecute an illegal subdivision. State law is clear that, where a subdivision should have been but was not reviewed and approved, the lots may not be sold or even placed on the market. 30-A MRSA sec 4406(1). Here, because the builder is a member of the Town of Windham Planning Board, it is not surprising that the Town is declining to find the subdivision illegal or seek fines and after-the-fact permitting review from one of its own board members. And yet, the land remains illegal to sell and so because it is unmarketable it should be covered under Covered Risk #26 of the Title Policy. The Town’s refusal to prosecute must continue for a full 20-years before their denial that it is illegal ripens into an exemption that would allow the Traffords to sell their property legally. 30-A MRSA sec 4402(5). This illegality is as much an impediment to marketability as if there was a recorded option with a 20 year duration discovered.  And this loss is immediate because the law provides that no person may “offer or agree to sell” such property – so it would be illegal for the Traffords to put the land on the market in order to follow your suggested procedure for suffering a loss under the policy. If I have not already persuaded you, I trust that you will ensure that you have your Maine counsel review the subdivision laws and abuse of the family exemptions involved on Evans Ridge Road.”