No, this isn’t the latest Blacks Looting Minneapolis rally. It’s a Scrooge in need of karma.
After decades in woods, New Hampshire man forced from cabin
By AP, 4 August 2021
CANTERBURY, N.H. – For almost three decades, 81-year-old David Lidstone has lived in the woods of New Hampshire along the Merrimack River in a small cabin adorned with solar panels. He has grown his own food, cut his own firewood, and tended to his cat and chickens.
But his off-the-grid existence appears to be at risk.
“River Dave,” as he’s known by boaters and kayakers, is behind bars after being accused of squatting for 27 years on private property in Canterbury.
The woodlot Lidstone calls home is just a few miles away from Interstate 93. But it’s hidden by the trees; it’s on 73 acres that’s been used for timber harvests. The property has been owned by the same family since 1963. There are no plans at this time to develop it.
Definitely a Man Going His Own way, although there’s no indication he ever used the term.
Lidstone has claimed that years ago, the owner gave his word — but nothing in writing — allowing him to live there. But in the eyes of the current owner, he’s a squatter and needs to go.
Either the property has been recently sold or inherited by a relative. Not sure.
Property owner Leonard Giles, 86, of South Burlington, Vermont, didn’t even know Lidstone was there…
An out-of-town owner of a lumber property. The stormclouds build.
…until the town administrator found out in 2015 and told him, expressing concern “with regard to the solid and septic waste disposal and the potential zoning violations created by the structure,” according to Giles’ complaint in 2016.
“Hey, did you know there’s a guy keeping to himself on YOUR property? And if you don’t get rid of him, we can sue you for all kinds of bureaucratic violations?” I have trouble believing that he was not disposing of his waste properly… for three decades without anybody noticing.
As the owner of the land seeks to tear down the cabin, Lidstone has been jailed since July 15 on a civil contempt sanction.
And so wealthy Mr. Giles went to town, so to speak, on a nowhere man.
“You came with your guns, you arrested me, brought me in here, you’ve got all my possessions. You keep ’em,” he told a judge at a hearing Wednesday. “I’ll sit here with your uniform on until I rot, sir.”
Well said, Nowhere Man. Although in his case, he’s literally got nowhere to go if they burn his home down.
Jodie Gedeon, an avid kayaker who befriended Lidstone about 20 years ago, is working with other supporters to help him, including organizing a petition drive and collecting money to cover property taxes.
“He’s just a really, really, big caring guy, and just chooses to live off the grid,” she said. “It really is about humanity, it really is about compassion, empathy … he’s not hurting anybody.”
Some additional info, Lidstone is an Air Force veteran with no criminal record until he was locked up on the contempt charge. While I love property rights as much as anybody, all indicators are that Lidstone should have been permitted an exception. But them’s not the RULES!
Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Andrew Schulman agreed that Lidstone isn’t hurting anyone, but said the law is clearly on the landowner’s side.
“You’re doing your own thing in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, so there’s a lot of sympathy to you for that,” he said. “But there’s a lot of weight on the other side of the balance sheet, and not just about what the (landowner) wants to do with the land, but the weight I feel to uphold the judgment of the court and the rule of law.”
I’m undecided how much of this is Giles being petty or uncaring bureaucrats threatpointing a conflict.
“We’ve got to recognize the fact that this was a managed woodlot, with income which is supposed to support my elderly client in his retirement. At some point, how far is he supposed to go in order to turn his woodlot into a habitable lot for somebody else who’s there trespassing?” said attorney Lisa Snow Wade. “He just wants his land back.”
Is this lawyered-up out-of-stater going to miss a meal if Lidstone gets to remain home a last few years? Have a heart, man.
Lidstone, who doesn’t have an attorney, insisted his cabin is a hunting and fishing camp, not a home.
Obviously not true, if he lives there 24-7 with no other established residence or even…
“Why do you need a road to it? Do you think I’m an idiot? You’re going to put a septic tank in for a hunting camp?” he said.
…access to the outside world.
While I don’t know New Hampshire law, he probably had a good case for squatter’s rights. Claiming it’s a camp not a home torpedoed that possibility, however.
He also argued that Giles doesn’t own the property but is being pressured by the town.
Also not true. If Giles didn’t own the property then how would that Vermonter’s name even come up?
“He’s a heck of a nice old man, I’ve talked with him a couple of times. This is not his fault, this is not my fault,” he said. “It’s lying, cheating corrupt judges like you that are stepping on little people like me. But I’m telling you, sir, you step on me, I’m going to bite your ankle.”
Hence the contempt charge. Definitely a Man Going His Own Way. Kudos to Lidstone for being a good sport towards Giles but hold that ‘nice old man’ thought. This goes ugly, fast.
Currently, Lidstone can be released if one of three things happen: he agrees to leave, the cabin is demolished by Giles, or 30 days have passed since he was jailed. Another hearing will be held next week.
Fire burns cabin of New Hampshire man jailed after nearly 3 decades in the woods
Blaze comes amid legal dispute between landowner and longtime squatter
Also 4 August 2021
[His] off-the-grid existence has been challenged in court by a property owner who says he’s been squatting for all those years. And to make Lidstone’s matters worse, his cabin was burned to the ground Wednesday in a blaze that local authorities are investigating.
No need to investigate. Giles arsoned Lidstone’s cabin while he was in jail for the first time in his life, to get rid of him permanently.
You may wonder why I was so bold with that accusation. Simple, Giles didn’t commit a crime. There was a building on his land and he torched it. That’s no crime. When you read about somebody getting arrested for burning their property down, that’s only because they endangered their neighbors or filed for insurance money. You are allowed to destroy what is yours and possession is 90% of the law.
Lidstone could attempt a civil case since he was the one who built the cabin but not when he’s essentially penniless with no record of ownership. Also, if his belongings had already been moved out and town officials were already breathing threats against him for crimes against The System.
If it wasn’t Giles then it WAS crime-arson and somebody will go to jail for a long time. Nobody else stands to benefit that much.
There’s a possibility… since we’re talking about a “nice old man”… that Giles even did it at Lidstone’s request so he could get out of jail before the 30 days were up and, well, move along. Lidstone doesn’t strike me as a quitter but he does have a brother and a couple sons, reportedly of modest means and understandably out of touch with him.
I can’t call Giles a black heart without knowing if Lidstone consented. There’s plenty enough hate to be directed at the petty, nameless bureaucrats who incited this conflict because they couldn’t leave a harmless old man alone.
At least he has family to fall back on. Regardless, it’s the end of an era for a self-made man.