CUMBERLAND — The land trust stewarding a Foreside Road beach property has given the town several conditions to meet before a plan for public use of the property can be implemented.
The town bought its portion of 179 Foreside Road, known more commonly as the Payson property, from Portland-based developer Bateman Partners. Bateman signed an agreement in June 2014 to purchase the approximately 100-acre property from Spears Hill LLC, which represents the family of the late Marion Payson.
Cumberland voters on Nov. 4, 2014 narrowly approved the town’s $3 million purchase of what the town calls the Broad Cove Reserve for public use and beach access. Bateman consummated its acquisition the following month and immediately sold a portion to the town.
The town’s purchase includes 2,200 feet of shoreline and a 200-foot pier.
The Payson heirs are suing the town and Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, challenging the town’s proposed use of the property. The land trust has been the Payson property’s steward since the 1997 establishment of a conservation easement for the parcel.
The heirs have argued that CCLT’s support of the town’s use “is a breach of its obligation as holder of the Conservation Easement,” and that the trust “has failed to enforce the terms” of the easement.
The Cumberland Planning Board in July unanimously approved the town’s parking and access plan for Broad Cove.
But CCLT’s conditions of approval must be met before implementation of the town plan, according to land trust President Penny Asherman. The land trust earlier this month finished its review of the town’s plan.
The town’s plan calls for creation of 33 parking spots in a wooded area, near the Foreside Road (Route 88) entrance, on a 5,600-square-foot reclaimed asphalt lot. Land would be reserved for another 11 spots, if necessary.
“Among the required changes to ensure the plan conforms to the conservation easement were the reduction in parking spaces near Route 88 from 44 to 33 and additional screening to protect the scenic views from Route 88,” Asherman said in an Aug. 31 letter to The Forecaster.
The town also proposes four mobility-challenged parking spots nearer the water. CCLT calls for a reduction from four to two spaces, as well as “approved stormwater and erosion controls for the improved road” into the property from Foreside Road, Asherman wrote.
The land trust board has approved the town’s plan for maintenance and improvement of the existing gravel road, “to reduce the current problem of soil erosion and lack of any stormwater controls,” Asherman said in a separate email Aug. 31.
The land trust supports the town’s proposed relocation of an existing bath house “out of the sensitive resource protection zone and other recommendations to protect archeological (sic) areas, habitat, and water quality,” she added.
“We are grateful for the work of the Ocean Access Committee for developing a thorough Management Plan for the property,” Asherman said. “Although not required by the easement, CCLT encouraged the Town to develop a citizen committee to identify recreational uses and develop a management plan to protect the natural and scenic values of the property.”
The property is to be gated, with hours of operation from dawn to dusk and staffing in the summer.
Maine Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills dismissed the heirs’ case in May, and the family appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The family’s attorney, Scott Anderson, said at the time that “the town has proposed to construct a public recreational facility on a portion of the real property burdened by the Conservation Easement. This project will include roads, parking lots, bathroom facilities, and other amenities.”
The heirs have maintained that the easement prohibits such construction.
The Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, steward of the former Payson property, has given the town of Cumberland of several conditions to meet before implementing a proposed plan for public use of the property.
Here is the text of the letter sent Aug. 31 to The Forecaster by Penny Asherman, president of the Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust:
“The Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust recently completed a detailed review of the Town of Cumberland’s proposed parking and access plan for the Broad Cove Reserve, the 25-acre parcel formerly part of the Payson Property on Cumberland Foreside. CCLT’s required conditions of approval must be met before the Town’s plan can be implemented. The Planning Board already approved the Town’s plan.
“Among the required changes to ensure the plan conforms to the conservation easement were the reduction in parking spaces near Route 88 from 44 to 33 and additional screening to protect the scenic views from Route 88. We also call for reduction in the number of handicapped spaces near the shore, approved stormwater and erosion controls for the improved road, support the relocation of the existing bath house out of the sensitive resource protection zone and other recommendations to protect archeological (sic) areas, habitat, and water quality.
“We are grateful for the work of the Ocean Access Committee for developing a thorough Management Plan for the property. Although not required by the easement, CCLT encouraged the Town to develop a citizen committee to identify recreational uses and develop a management plan to protect the natural and scenic values of the property.
“With plans now well underway to facilitate recreational access to the Broad Cove Reserve, the public will be disappointed to learn that the Payson heirs, after selling to a developer, are now attempting to block any of the town’s plan from being implemented.
“CCLT’s responsibilities for the former Payson Property, which began 18 years ago, will continue in perpetuity, as we monitor and enforce activities over the long-term to protect its beauty and conservation values.”