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Wakefield and Middleton selectmen meet on boundary dispute

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News

A JOINT MEETING was held by Middleton and Wakefield Boards of Selectmen in Wakefield on Aug. 13 to discuss the Fournier town boundary dispute. Pictured here (l-r) are Middleton Selectman Mike Schwarz, Middleton Chair Jon Hotchkiss, Wakefield Vice Chair Charlie Edwards, Middleton Vice Chair Joe Bailey, Wakefield Chair Ken Paul, Wakefield Selectman Connie Twombley, and Wakefield Town Administrator Teresa Williams. Missing from the photo is Middleton Selectmen's Secretary Laura Parker. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
August 21, 2014
WAKEFIELD — For six years now John Fournier has been trying to get the current boundary line between Wakefield and Middleton "corrected" so that his house will located in Middleton rather than Wakefield. He has met repeatedly with selectmen in both towns over the matter without success. In May 2008 both towns took Fournier to court over a vehicle leasing business conducted on his property, and the court found that Fournier was required to file for a site plan review in Wakefield.

Fournier is now threatening to go to court again in Strafford County to have a missing boundary placed where he considers it belongs.

Wakefield selectmen, having met with Fournier and tried to get help from the state Department of Transportation on the matter, decided on June 21 that the time had come to invite their counterparts in Middleton to meet with them to discuss the matter. The joint meeting finally took place at the Aug. 13 Wakefield Board of Selectmen meeting.

Wakefield Selectmen Chair Ken Paul welcomed Middleton Selectmen Chair Jon Hotchkiss, Vice Chair Joe Bailey and Selectman Mike Schwarz and introduced them to Vice Chair Charlie Edwards, Selectman Connie Twombley, Town Administrator Teresa Williams and Selectmen's Secretary Toni Bodah. Middleton Selectmen's Secretary Laura Parker was also in attendance.

Paul began the discussion by giving his view that a survey of the boundary should be done before going to court.

Hotchkiss responded that Fournier had lost his last case on the issue. He also pointed out that if the boundary were changed it would affect six or seven other houses on Pigeon Hill and Access Road in Middleton. He said the Middleton board was satisfied with the line staying just where it is.

Schwarz produced an aerial photo of the town line, which is also the boundary between Strafford and Carroll counties. The county line was set in 1840 when Carroll County was created out of the northern half of Strafford County.

Edwards said that Fournier has had the line surveyed by two reputable surveyors – "the same people we would use – and they show the line where Fournier wants it."

Paul gave his opinion that "the real issue is the junkyard," referring to the unregistered vehicles that led to the 2008 court case.

Schwarz challenged that, saying that Middleton only allows two unregistered vehicles – the same as Wakefield. "If we had claim to the property," he said, "we would be happy to collect the taxes." He doubted the court would accept a suit from Fournier since the matter of his residency has already been adjudicated.

Williams retrieved the court decision on her computer and read from it. The conclusion was that Fournier was a resident of Wakefield.

Paul returned to his view that it would be better to spend money on a survey rather than legal fees in court.

Hotchkiss responded, "He will take us to court anyway. We are going by the [earlier] court decision. We'll see if he sues."

In the end both boards agreed to stand firm and see if a suit is actually filed and accepted by the court.

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