PORTLAND — Fourteen Brunswick residents are suing the town over a zoning variance granted for construction of a nearly 40,000-square-foot train maintenance facility in their neighborhood.
The lawsuit, which has been in the works for several weeks, was filed last week in Cumberland County Superior Court.
The plaintiffs argue that the town did not inform all abutting neighbors about a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on April 21, where the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority was granted the variance.
They also claim that if the facility is built, residents will be harmed by noise and air pollution, vibrations, and a decline in the fair market value of their homes.
In addition, the group contests that NNEPRA did not adequately meet the four conditions required to be issued a variance. As a result, they argue that the ZBA violated the law by granting the variance.
NNEPRA has until early July to formally file for a variance. If it does not, the neighbors have nothing to appeal, and their lawsuit would be moot.
In the meantime, the group is focusing on determining who has jurisdiction over the train facility, according to one of the residents, Anna Nelson.
The town’s lawyer, Pat Scully, has said that the federal Surface Transportation Board has authority over the project, meaning the town’s zoning variance was unnecessary in the first place.
But Nelson and her neighbors are trying to determine if the state, or even the town, may have more authority than previously believed.
The group’s on-going efforts have garnered them more attention within the community and the town government, and the Town Council on Monday said it will hold a public hearing about the train facility in the near future.