The organization Our Town has taken its case against the development of 435 Main St. in Damariscotta to Maine Superior Court.
Damariscotta-based attorneys Peter Drum and Jonathan Hull filed the complaint with Maine Superior Court on behalf of Our Town and Damariscotta residents Anna Jansen and Catherine Blount on April 25.
The complaint names the town of Damariscotta, the Damariscotta Planning Board, the Damariscotta Board of Appeals, and the developer, Damariscotta Main Street LLC, as defendants.
The complaint revolves around Our Town, Jansen, and Blount’s appeal of the planning board’s Feb. 5 decision to approve the 435 Main St. project.
The 435 Main St. project, proposed by Commercial Properties Inc. CEO Daniel Catlin, consists of three commercial buildings: a 22,000-square-foot building for two retail spaces, a 5,525-square-foot building with three commercial spaces, and a 2,700-square-foot bank with a drive-thru.
Drum filed an appeal on behalf of Our Town and Jansen, owner of Head Tide Oven at 456 Main St., on March 2.
The appeal application identified Jansen as a member of Our Town and stated that she was “directly aggrieved” by the planning board’s approval of the development.
The appeal listed 22 issues with the planning board’s decision.
The appeal asked that the planning board decision “be revoked so that the applicant may bring their application with great specificity and address the concerns of Our Town.” Alternatively, the group asked the board of appeals to remand the decision to the planning board for more specific findings of fact.
On March 30, the board of appeals dismissed the appeal on the grounds that Our Town did not have the legal standing to sue or be sued, and no one, including Jansen, could be considered a participant in Our Town, as no one was believed to be on record stating they were speaking on behalf of Our Town during public meetings about the development.
Drum and Hull filed an appeal reconsideration request April 20. The appeals board denied the request Tuesday, May 8, because the request had been filed 11 days after the deadline.
In order for the board to open a hearing for the reconsideration, a board member on the prevailing side of the original vote not to accept the appeal would have had to make the motion to open the appeal reconsideration. No one on the board chose to do so.
The new complaint describes Our Town as “an unincorporated association with a principal location in Damariscotta” and lists several residents as members: Jansen, Blount, Amy LaLime, Edward Seidel, Lisa Katz, Andrea Keushguerian, Vahe Keushguerian, Dr. Tim Goltz, Karen Kleinkopf, Dr. Minda Gold, Jacques Vesery, and Kimberly Sampson.
The complaint states that the appeals board erred because it did not hold a public hearing, and states that Chair Bruce Rockwood erred by sending a memorandum to board members before the March 30 meeting without informing Our Town or the developer or providing copies.
The complaint states that the planning board failed to designate any record for the matter. It also states that the planning board violated the Damariscotta Site Plan Review Ordinance by holding a public hearing Sept. 18, 2017, prior to finding the application complete Dec. 4.
The complaint lists 10 other reasons why the planning board violated the ordinance, including not publishing a notice that the application was complete; approving a waiver request allowing 20 percent of parking to be in front of the building when a waiver for only 15 percent is allowed; not requiring the applicant to provide for a system of pedestrian walkways; and allowing the “smaller three-bay retail building” to have “false pitched roof arrays” rather than the required pitched roof.
Other listed violations were allowing the square footage of the 22,000-square-foot building to be calculated by individual tenant spaces, rather than the structure’s total square footage; deeming that the pedestrian circulation standards met the ordinance; and “assuming” requirements had been met rather than finding that they had.
“Given the significant violations by the planning board, and the errors of the appeals board, the appellants respectfully request that the court grant this appeal and vacate the appeals board decision in this matter and remand to the appeals board for further consideration,” the complaint concludes.