Brunswick sells land at center of lawsuit for $550K

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BRUNSWICK — The embattled, tax-acquired town property at 946 Mere Point Road has been sold for $550,000.

The June 15 sale to a California couple marked the transfer of property back into private ownership for the first time since 2011, when the town foreclosed on it after the former owner failed to pay nearly $64,900 in back taxes.

The purchasers are Daniel and Kathryn Frost of Irvine, California, according to Town Manager John Eldridge.

The sale also likely stymies an effort to turn the 4-acre parcel into a park through a voter referendum, as a lawsuit pending in Cumberland County Superior Court seeks to do.

“At this point, the request to schedule a referendum is moot,” town attorney Stephen Langsdorf said in an email Monday. “The only thing left that the court can do is to determine how something like this would be handled in the future under the Brunswick charter. The sale is final and the lawsuit has no effect on that.”

In February, a group of residents sued the town after the council rejected their petition that would have made the land a public park.

The petition – which attracted more than 1,100 signatures – would have essentially reversed the council’s 5-4 vote last September to sell the land, and forced a referendum vote on the park proposal.

The council voted 7-2 in February to reject the petition after Langsdorf assured them that the petition failed to follow a legal mechanism in the Town Charter.

The court’s involvement still gave several councilors pause at a recent meeting. Last month, the council voted 5-4 to authorize Eldridge to sell the property, but some councilors called the move “rushed,” and objected to selling the property prior to the court’s ruling.

In response to the sale, plaintiff Sockna Dice again criticized the council for preventing a referendum on the question, given the amount of public interest in the future of the property.

“The town has now demonstrated its total disrespect for the citizens’ clearly expressed wish to be involved in a significant town decision,” she said Monday.

“While we care deeply about what happens to this property, we are not suing just to keep the property, but to keep Brunswick citizens’ ability to have a say in their government, in the Maine tradition of citizen initiative,” Dice said.

The lawsuit is expected to last through the summer. Written arguments were filed on May 1, and a judge still needs to schedule oral arguments, according to Langsdorf.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

 

Brunswick sold 946 Mere Point Road to a California couple for $550,000 on June 15.

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Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.
  • Chew H Bird

    Hopefully the folks suing the town realize the town has better things to do than waste taxpayer dollars on lawyers. With approving the bloated school budget, and the costs of a new school due to town neglect, and residents looking at continued annual tax increases of 4% Brunswick has enough problems…

  • farmertom2

    I will never vote for any of the council who supported this sale– it was wrong, and clearly an end run around the will of at least a portion of the town’s voters. It was high handed and undemocratic. Shame on the town council.