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Board hears from owner of controversial rental property

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Feb 22, 2021
Source: File photo

Stockton Springs — The Board of Selectmen heard from Jane Rago, co-owner of the 19th-century home on Lighthouse Road known as the Cow Palace, which she and her husband, Scott, use as a second home, at its Feb. 18 meeting.

Rago, who lives in Savannah, Georgia, said she wanted to give the board more information about herself and her husband in light of the proposed short-term rental ordinance now under consideration by the Planning Board. She said she had been visiting Cape Jellison since 1978, and had dreamed of making the Cow Palace her own after staying there many times earlier in her life. "This really is our dream come true." She said they require a seven-night minimum stay, and the house is only rented to vacationers four or five weeks a year.

She went on to say that she was "shaken" by some of what she saw in the recording of the Feb. 4 meeting, where residents John Vallely and Patricia Twum complained about noise and bad behavior by people staying at the Cow Palace. On one occasion last summer, Twum said Feb. 4, she was afraid because, "the men were heckling me because I complained about the noise," and she had to ask a male neighbor to help her take out her garbage cans.

Rago said several neighbors in Stockton Springs have her cellphone number, and two friends in town are on call to handle problems that come up when she and her husband are not there. "This is not a business venture. We would live there full-time if I could find a job," she said, adding that they do not make a profit renting the house, and sometimes do not even cover their property taxes. She said they will be in the house from April through mid-August this year. She also asked to see the proposed ordinance amendment, which Town Manager Jennifer King said she would send her. If the measure is approved by the Planning Board, it would be voted on at town meeting.

In other business, King reported that Ambulance Director Chaz Hare resigned his post Feb. 1 because of medical issues. She told The Republican Journal Feb. 22 that another crew member, Loren Cole, has accepted the job of interim ambulance director. When word of Hare's resignation got out, the town of Searsport contacted her, she said, to offer to work up a proposal to provide ambulance services for Stockton Springs.

The board discussed the future of the town's ambulance service, and King told TRJ that options including having another town provide the service and keeping the existing town service are still under consideration. The eventual course of action will be decided either at the June 12 annual town meeting or at a special town meeting.

The board will hold its budget workshops at 8 a.m. Thursdays, March 11 and March 25, and immediately following the Board of Selectmen's meetings Thursdays March 18 and April 1. The board will begin meeting in person in the downstairs meeting room at the Town Office Thursday, March 4, at 8 a.m. To attend in person, contact King ahead of time. Meetings will also continue to be broadcast on Facebook Live.

The Cow Palace on Lighthouse Road has been a source of controversy for some in town because of noise from summer guests. (Source: AirBnB)
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