Myette and Wright, Boothbay Harbor legal dispute ongoing

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 2:30pm

    Boothbay Harbor is still in the midst of a legal dispute with 29 McKown LLC and Chandler Wright of 35 McKown St., with Harbor Crossing LLC at 14 Todd Ave. as a party in interest. The Dec. 9 complaint alleged Code Enforcement Officer Geoff Smith erred in lifting a stop work order he levied against Harbor Crossing, owned by Dennis Hilton, for deviating from original building plans.

    Wright and 29 McKown LLC proprietor Tom Myette provided the Boothbay Register with a May 24 court brief arguing Smith should have required Harbor Crossing to submit a new permit application, or for the building to undergo site plan review before Smith lifted the stop work order.

    The brief states: “The … continued construction of the building … was still in violation of (the code) at the time the stop work order was issued because there had been no site plan approval. The CEO’s actions not only did nothing to penalize Harbor Crossing for its blatant violation of the Land Use Ordinance, but more importantly allowed Harbor Crossing to escape the scrutiny that would have been applied during a site plan review.”

    The first permit application was submitted March 26, 2020 for a new roof, siding, doors, flooring, paint and a heat pump and no dimensional changes to the building. The planning board and Smith approved. The second was submitted June 5 requesting demolition and a new building including a new foundation, a roof pitch increasing the height from 15’ to 16’ and an overall addition of 24 square feet. Smith granted the permit June 8.

    Smith issued the stop work order Sept. 17 demanding a full, revised plan of the then-ongoing build: a 23’ height and expansion of approximately 200 square feet. He lifted the stop work order Sept. 25 and required no further permit or site plan review for the changes.

    Myette and Wright’s lawyer Kristin Collins of Preti Flaherty sent selectmen a May 3, 2021 letter listing her clients’ grievances. Those included the alleged improper permitting, lifting a stop work order with design updates which should have triggered a site plan review, failure to issue fines and other alleged code violations.

    “Take a walk by to appreciate how this building sticks out like a sore thumb and creates nuisances for its neighbors,” the letter reads. It claims an “absurd amount of nighttime lighting” and a roof-mounted sign. Harbor Crossing installed a handicap access ramp without a building permit, the letter cclaims. Allegedly, the ramp was removed when the town was questioned about a permit and a requisite fine was never imposed. Said the letter, “At every turn, the CEO has failed to hold this owner to the standards of the ordinance, and has never subjected him to the same level of scrutiny or consequences to which others are held. The result is a building that is larger, brighter and more ostentatious than necessary.”

    The letter asks selectmen to direct Smith to prosecute Harbor Crossing’s alleged violations, require a site plan review of the building and order signage removed and lighting brought up to code.

    Wright and Myette’s brief concluded similarly, asking the court to send the matter back to Smith to reinstate a stop work order and forbid occupancy until the planning board approves the site plan.

    Asked how litigation is proceeding, Myette said the judge has acknowledged the town had not posted any of the permits on the project and that neither abutter was notified. “He highlighted that. We're cautiously hopeful that this means the judge is going to send it back to the planning board.”

    Hilton declined comment. Town Manager Julia Latter also declined comment, due to the ongoing litigation.

    “As a result of the CEO’s actions, what has been built is almost exactly what was denied by the planning board to the prior tenant who wanted to purchase the building,” said Myette. “This is both inexplicable and has consequences not the least of which is it requires Chandler and I to have to engage legal representation to get the the town leaders to enforce their code.” 

    This article has been updated from its original posting.