AYER -Ayer selectman Christopher Hillman is blasting fellow board member Frank Maxant . Maxant is firing back in the battle sparked by properties targeted by the selectmen majority as 'nuisance' properties.
Hillman alleges Maxant convinced controversial landlord Hugh Ernisse into changing his mind and blocking Ayer Building Inspector Gabe Vellante from examining the inside of Ernisse's 14 Williams Street and 128 Washington Street homes. Maxant said Ernisse never gave permission for an interior tour and ultimately still permitted a grounds tour of the two homes.
Hillman shared with Nashoba Publishing his June 8 email to Maxant, which was copied to the full board of selectmen. Hillman's agitation ramped up following the selectmen's June 5 closed door meeting where "properties enforcement" was on the agenda.
Maxant later complained to the Attorney General's Office on June 15 that the closed door meeting was illegal in that the discussion over the condition of Ernisse's properties and Mark Velardi's property at 71 Sandy Pond Road should have been conducted in open session.
Following the closed door meeting, Maxant states he advised Ernisse that town officials would need either "an invitation or a warrant" to enter Ernisse's homes at 14 Williams Street (where Maxant lives as a tenant) and 128 Washington Street.
Maxant said that Ernisse never provided permission to enter the interior of the structures, but did ultimately permit Vellante to inspect the exterior
"As everyone knows by now I speak my mind, whether people like it or not," said Hillman in his email to Maxant. "It's gotten me far in life and I can promise all that will never change. So here is my two cents. I quite honestly think your actions today were despicable. If your landlord or you had nothing to hide, what was the issue?"
"The building department asked and received permission to enter the property due to the high number of YOUR constituents' complaints due to the filthy and unsanitary conditions that they are forced to live near, and apparently you live in?" railed Hillman.
Maxant responded by answering that any 'unsanitary conditions' are inspected by the Board of Health, not the Building Inspector acting upon the will of the Board of Selectmen. "They're not in our provinces," said Maxant.
A petition with 30 signatures pleading for a forced cleanup of the Williams Street yard was presented to the selectmen in March 2011.
"Why as a representative of the townspeople you would object to this makes me question your motives," wrote Hillman.
Hillman was also incensed that Maxant complained to the state that the board was seeking "aggressive zoning enforcement against a self-supporting paraplegic who recently returned home to recuperate from lengthy hospitalization" - an allusion to Velardi, who is wheelchair-bound and has been repeatedly notified to remove stacked trees and parked commercial vehicles from his front lawn.
"Claiming that Mr. Velardi is somehow being singled out because he is paralyzed is ludicrous!! I, as a parent of a handicap child, think one of the lowest disgusting things a person can do is use their unfortunate disability to evade the law," said Hillman. "Nothing offends me more, especially coming from the mouth of a colleague."
Maxant said Velardi is not evading any law, and that Velardi has moved the stacked trees out of the sight-line of passing vehicles.
"There is no law he's evading," said Maxant. "The only law he might not be complying with is 'Hillman's Law."
Hillman said Maxant would be "shocked at the overwhelming response of the law abiding citizens" if a public hearing were held over the condition of the targeted properties which Hillman called "disgusting messes."
"There's no law against disgusting messes," said Maxant. "Maybe it's unfortunate but it's true." Maxant said Velardi confided in him that he felt tremendous pressure from the Ayer selectmen over the flap.
"In closing Mr. Maxant, I like you, but somewhere along the line you need to realize that the people of Ayer are fed up with your obsession with Devens, your defense of safe havens for sex offenders and blatant law breakers," wrote Hillman. "Ayer is changing for the better each day. I believe you need to accept this, or you may not be on this board come this time next year."
"I don't need to be a selectman," said Maxant when asked to respond to Hillman's challenge. "But I need to respect what I see when I look in the mirror."
Maxant sent written notice to Vellante and Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand, warning that he'd grant no entry to his Williams Street apartment unit. He's since gathered signatures on letters from his tenement neighbors on Williams Street issuing the same warning.
"So now I can say 'we' - we'd be willing to talk about having an inspection of our homes after we see the inspection report on Mr. Hillman's home," said Maxant.
Follow Mary Arata on Twitter.com/maryearata and Facebook.com/mary.arata.