Family, L.L. Bean in talks for Freeport cemetery agreement

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FREEPORT — L.L. Bean and the Mann Cemetery Association are discussing a settlement to their dispute over access to a cemetery next to the company’s Outdoor Discovery Center.

When the discovery center was built in 2014, L.L. Bean spread loam and seeded the access road to Mann Cemetery against the Mann family’s wishes. According to a statement released Monday, the cemetery association is working on a resolution with the outdoor outfitter.

“L.L. Bean Co. has given the Mann Cemetery Association and the Mann family their word that this matter will be worked out and has said that our latest proposal for a settlement is reasonable,” John Mann, president of the association, said in a press release.

Mann added that the cemetery association has “no further comment at this time.”

Both the discovery center and the cemetery, which is about 300 years old and has almost 170 plots, are on Marietta Lane off Lower Flying Point Road.

L.L. Bean’s lawyer, Martin Eisenstein, of Lewiston-based Brann & Isaacson, also said he couldn’t comment on the issue because the settlement with the Mann Cemetery Association hasn’t been finalized. He said it’s been discussed, but nothing has been documented.

Eisenstein also wouldn’t say whether the settlement will be financial or require that an access road be constructed. Members of the Mann Cemetery Association also wouldn’t disclose details of their proposal.

Ken Mann last week said the cemetery association has asked L.L. Bean to build a new access road that would go from a different point on Marietta Road to the cemetery. Eisenstein on Monday said he couldn’t confirm whether the new road has been discussed.

The cemetery is where many members of the Mann family and other early Freeport residents are buried; the last burial took place in 1922. Members of the Mann family still live in Freeport, and were promised continued access to the cemetery when the discovery center was built.

The Manns access the 1/2-acre cemetery through an easement across a property on the other side of the cemetery. According to Eisenstein, the adjacent property is owned by the Ulrickson family and L.L. Bean negotiated the easement in 2014.

Plans for the Outdoor Discovery Center were approved by the Project Review Board in September 2013, with the condition that “the final plan will show the traditional access to the Mann Cemetery.”

L.L. Bean went back to the Project Review Board on July 13, after Code Enforcement Officer Fred Reeder in May said clarification was needed about  whether the company was allowed to plant grass over the road. The board has scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 13 to discuss whether the company was allowed to plant over the access road.

Town Planner Donna Larson gave a memo to the board with two options, both of which would allow action by L.L. Bean.

Under one option, the board would clarify its motion from September 2013, and say that the condition of “show(ing) traditional access” only meant showing it on a map for historical purposes and not actually retaining it.

The second option is for the board to approve a site plan amendment and remove the condition that requires traditional access to be shown.

Larson last week said either option would please L.L. Bean, but the Project Review Board is allowed to take any action it sees fit, so it’s possible the access road could be restored.

On Monday, L.L. Bean went before the Board of Appeals to try to have the code enforcement officer’s demand overturned. No decision was made, though, because L.L. Bean asked the board to table its appeal until after the Sept. 13 public hearing so the company can hear the Project Review Board’s decision.

The decision to table the issue was made in the introduction of the appeal, and board members immediately approved it, so no discussion was allowed. Around two dozen people were present at the meeting, including members of the Mann Cemetery Association.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Freeport resident Ken Mann maintains Mann Cemetery off Marietta Road, where many of his ancestors are buried. Access has been restricted due to the location of the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Center, but the Mann Cemetery Association said it’s discussing a settlement with the company.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.