M/cloudy
56°
M/cloudy
Hi 68° | Lo 42°

Neighbors sit by during long court battle over ‘eyesore’ property

Gamil Azmy carries a bale of hay over to his bull Hercules while tending to some chores on his land in Warner on November 8, 2013. 
Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. 

(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Gamil Azmy carries a bale of hay over to his bull Hercules while tending to some chores on his land in Warner on November 8, 2013. Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

As attorneys in Merrimack County Superior Court yesterday flipped through nearly 200 photos of Gamil Azmy’s property on Route 103 East, Judge Richard McNamara sent a bailiff to check his schedule for today.

Set up another hearing, the judge told him. This case would need another day.

“We’ll work through all this,” McNamara said. “I understand I’ve got all afternoon (Friday) and . . . we’ve got to get this done.”

And as what was supposed to be one last hearing ended with yet another court date on the calendar, the neighbors to Azmy’s farm went back to their neighborhood without a resolution again.

Michael Evans, who lives across the road from Azmy’s property, shook his head as he stood up to leave the courtroom after yesterday’s hearing.

In this case, he’s used to waiting.

“That’s what we’ve been doing for five years,” Evans said. “In the meantime, we have to live across the street from this s---hole.”

Town officials asked a judge yesterday to levy $29,600 in fines against Azmy and his wife, Lois, who own an 18-acre property that straddles both Webster and Warner. The parties have been fighting for years about debris, machinery and out-of-service vehicles on the Azmys’ land, which they argue is a working farm.

In May 2011, the couple signed a settlement agreement with the towns that promised to store materials and equipment in permanent structures, and to clean up other debris on the property.

But that settlement wasn’t the end Azmy’s neighbors hoped it would be. In June 2012, McNamara found the Azmys in contempt of court for not complying with the agreement and ordered them to clean up the property again. The order also required the couple to pay a fine of $50 a day for each day past Nov. 15, 2011, that they did not do so.

The Azmys have petitioned for an abatement of their fines, but town attorney Bart Mayer wants the judge to permit the towns to enforce the settlement – and to remove broken-down vehicles and other debris from the Azmys’ property.

“The agreement was not a license (for these items),” Mayer told the judge yesterday. “It was an agreement to clean up the property.”

The Azmys have argued they put hundreds of hours of work into building permanent storage structures required in the agreement. Gamil Azmy keeps a host of animals on his land, and he has said he sells a range of items from produce to birdhouses to aquaculture systems.

“I’m not a gentleman farmer,” Azmy said in a November interview. “I’m a gentleman, and I’m a farmer. But I’m not a gentleman farmer. I would like to be a gentleman farmer, but it takes money.”

Mayer and the Azmy’s attorney, John Vanacore, began yesterday to work through pictures from an inspection in October and an extensive list of items the town claims are in violation of the settlement agreement.

Mayer showed the judge pictures of four powerboats on the property – the settlement allows only three – and the saplings that have grown up inside them as they sit.

“Sure, everybody is allowed to have boats,” Mayer said. “What we’re suggesting here and also stated in our motion is that they’ve turned to junk by now when you have crops growing in them. You have saplings growing in your boats.”

Vanacore and the Azmys had little time to respond to Mayer yesterday, but they promised to produce copies of the registrations for all the vehicles on Mayer’s list. The settlement allows 18 vehicles on the property – but only three can be uninspected, and only two of those can be unregistered. Before the attorneys could continue, the court closed for the day.

The parties will appear before the judge again at 1:30 p.m. today.

As he walked out of the courtroom, Karl Thulin described the vehicles that line the Azmys property on Route 103, just south of his own driveway.

“It’s more than an eyesore. . . . It’s unmanageable,” Thulin said. “It’s unruly, and it’s unfair. It’s really unfair.”

The constant pileup of debris on the Azmys’ property is “a moving target,” Thulin said, too difficult for the town to regulate.

“It looks like a junkyard,” he said. “It is a junkyard.”

It’s definitely doesn’t look like a farm from the street, Evans said.

“He doesn’t have any land to graze anything,” Evans said. “He doesn’t sell any produce or eggs.”

Even if the judge does order the towns to enforce the settlement agreement and fine the Azmys, Evans said he’s not sure he’ll be happy with the state of his neighbor’s property.

“Probably not to my satisfaction.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

From a drive-by point of view, it seems like they could make a huge improvement just by getting rid of all of the junk vehicles out by the road. Really, who needs all of those dead cars and trucks?

"Harry's has been there long before zoning ever was enacted. Harry has every right to do what he is doing". ...precisely why Warner is moving towards Claremont and not New London

These self-righteous townsfolk are pots calling the kettles black. It’s a safe bet one or more of the neighbors just got done littering their yards and assaulting our senses with their garish excesses of white trash Christmas junk. At least the Azmys’ litter is not glowing and flashing like slot machines at a Vegas Macdonald’s.

It is unfortunate that such a nice town would let this type of thumbing of flagrant "thumbing of the nose" continue. I can only imagine it may have to do with the lack of enforcement on other eyesores in town, ie Harry's garage and the Mason lodge. We love Warner but are saddened by the lack of enforcement and seemingly low standards set by the town.

Harry's has been there long before zoning ever was enacted. Harry has every right to do what he is doing.

Thanks for making my point, crank. The town is selectively enforcing zoning, hence my point. This guy amzil, is sticking his thumb in the eye of the town, without any repercussions...

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.