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Harpswell plans to again pursue restoration of historic boundary with Brunswick

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Harpswell plans to again pursue restoration of historic boundary with Brunswick

HARPSWELL — Selectmen will meet with representatives of The Carrying Place Assembly to discuss pursuit of legislative action to change the boundary between Harpswell and Brunswick.

Residents earlier this year at Town Meeting approved spending $2,500 toward legal costs and further research of the boundary. Recently, members of The Carrying Place Assembly addressed selectmen about submitting new legislation.

Malcolm Whidden said the group plans to approach newly elected Rep. Kimberly Olsen, R-Phippsburg, about sponsoring the legislation. But other members of the organization, including Sam Alexander, said it may be better to wait to until new legislators have been elected to committees.

Selectman Elinor Multer encouraged the group to "boil down all this information" to make it easier to understand. She said the research has been done, but the amount of information is could be overwhelming to newly elected legislators.

Selectmen Chairman Jim Henderson said waiting to submit a bill could hurt the town. He said the deadline for submitting new bills is rapidly approaching.

"Submit a draft and then it can be massively amended," he said. "Unless it's an outrageously inappropriate bill, get it in."

The disputed border is on Harpswell's northern edge along Route 123. It includes about 40 acres of upland and hundreds of acres of an intertidal flats on Middlebay.

The intertidal area is of particular interest to area clam harvesters. In the 1990s a dispute known as the "Clam Wars" erupted over the area, leading Harpswell to break off its co-management agreement with Brunswick. Shortly thereafter, Harpswell sued Brunswick over the border.

Previous legislation, LD 1410, was denied by the State and Local Government Committee by a 10-3 vote in May. 

Whidden said the group planned to not mention the "Clam Wars" or the potential value of the land when asking legislative approval of the boundary line this time.

Selectmen unanimously approved contacting Olsen regarding introduction of a boundary bill.  A workshop meeting Dec. 29 at 4:30 p.m. has been scheduled with The Carrying Place Assembly.

Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or sgrinnell@theforecaster.net.