Naples Fines Builder $600K for Cutting Trees

The Press Herald reports on a developer who apparently disregarded shoreline zoning ordinances and cleared an entire lot of vegetation is now facing fines up to $660,000.

The town has cited Chase Holdings LLC for three violations of the shoreland zoning ordinance and is researching whether a fourth violation occurred. The company is associated with John Chase, a builder in southern Maine who owns Chase Custom Homes.

An area of more than 100 feet by 100 feet on Big Bear Point was cleared of all vegetation, opening a view of Long Lake and adding significant value to the property, according to the DEP, which had a staff member investigate in March, along with Naples’ code enforcement officer.

Chase Holdings was cited for three violations within the 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 other possible violation would be for removing more than 40 percent of the trees in the buffer zone within a 10-year period.

Town attorney Geoffrey Hole said he will negotiate with Chase Holdings on a consent agreement that could address civil penalties and the environmental remedy. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, he said, the town will sue in Superior Court.