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  • The Independent

    A wealthy couple is accused of killing trees to score the ultimate ocean view. Now they’re paying for it

    By Mike Bedigan,

    23 days ago

    A well-connected couple in Maine who allegedly poisoned trees that blocked a view of the ocean have drawn the ire of their small community and even sparked an investigation by the state attorney general.

    Amelia Bond, former CEO of the St. Louis Foundation, which oversees charitable funds with more than $500m in assets, is accused of applying herbicide to oak trees in front of her neighbor’s waterfront property in 2021 without consent.

    According to legal documents, when the trees and surrounding vegetation began dying in June 2022, Bond offered to help split the cost of removing them from in front of the home, reported The Associated Press.

    The neighbor, Lisa Gorman – wife of the late Leon Gorman, former president of US retail giant LL Bean – had the trees tested, at which point the chemical was discovered, according to the outlet.

    As well as the destruction of the trees at the Gorman property, the herbicide, Tebuthiuron, later leached into a neighboring park and the town’s only public seaside beach, prompting a legal investigation.

    Bond and her husband Arthur Bond III, an architect and the nephew of former US Senator Kit Bond, have since been forced to pay thousands of dollars to the state as well as $1.5m to Gorman, according to the town’s planning and development director.

    The trees were eventually cut down allowing the Bonds a view of the Camden Harbor from their home, which sits just behind Gorman’s.

    However, angry locals in Camden – a community of just 5,000 – have called for further action, including for Bond to be prosecuted for her actions. “Anybody dumb enough to poison trees right next to the ocean should be prosecuted, as far as I’m concerned,” said Paul Hodgson, a resident.

    The couple may also be on the hook for further monitoring and remediation over the damage to the park and beach. Maine’s attorney general – Aaron Frey – has agreed to further investigate the incident.

    Representative Vicki Doudera, has suggested that there be a sliding scale for fines that can be imposed by the Maine Board of Pesticide Control Board. The maximum is currently $4,500 – which the Gormans have paid.

    “It makes me so livid," Doudera told AP. "This situation, the minute I heard about it, I thought, ‘Wow! These people are going to get a slap on the wrist.’ That’s just not right."

    A lawyer for the Bonds told AP that they have no comment, but they “continue to take the allegations against them seriously.

    “They continue to cooperate with the town of Camden, state of Maine and the Gormans, as they have done over the last two years,” a statement read.

    Tebuthiuron is the same herbicide used in 2010 by an angry Alabama football fan to kill the oak trees at a rival university, following a sports defeat. The incident earned jail time for Harvey Updyke, who acknowledged poisoning the trees.

    The chemical contaminates soil and does not break down, so it continues to kill plants. The only solution, apart from removing the soil, is dilution and waiting for the substance to thin out enough to be safe for plants – a process that can take up to two years.

    Camden resident, Dwight Johnson, described the way Bond had feigned being a good neighbor by offering to share the costs of removing trees that she’d poisoned as “underhanded.”

    Lynn Harrington, another town resident, questioned whether the Bonds could show their faces around town, where they are members of the Camden Yacht Club.

    Most acknowledged, however, that wealthy part-time residents who frequent the town in the summer months have enough money to do as they please.

    “They just pay the fine because they have plenty of money,” Hodgson said. “That’s the town we live in.”

    The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.

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