Lawsuit likely after Cape council lets driveway stand

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CAPE ELIZABETH — A Stonegate subdivision resident said he will sue the town after the Town Council affirmed a driveway permit for 6 Stonegate Road.

Robert Stier Jr., of 9 Rock Crest Drive, on Wednesday said he plans to appeal the council’s decision in Maine Superior Court.

Stier said he and his neighbors were shocked to see vegetation and trees stripped from the corner of Mitchell and Stonegate roads in November and even more concerned with the rapid pace of construction on the property.

“We were really upset when the spec house was advertised as a new house in Stonegate, which was misleading and dishonest,” Stier said. “My specific appeal to the town was that (the developers) shouldn’t be able to put a driveway across the boundary of the subdivision without Planning Board approval, which is what happened.”

He said if the developers had complied with the rules, “we wouldn’t have a problem.”

“We’d prefer to not be in a position adverse to the town, but we are committed to making sure the neighborhood is fairly treated,” he said. “Half the councilors agreed with us, but now we are in a position that it has to be decided by the court.”

In a decision made by only four of the seven town councilors, the majority voted in favor of the driveway permit issued by Public Works Director Robert Malley.

Councilors Anne Swift-Kayatta, Frank Governali and Jim Walsh recused themselves from the discussion. Swift-Kayatta’s husband is a partner in the litigation department of Stier’s law firm; Governali owns property in Stonegate and is a member of the subdivision association, and Walsh lives in the Stonegate development.

Council Chairman David Sherman and Councilors Caitlin Jordan, Sara Lennon and Jessica Sullivan voted to deny the appeal, although Jordan and Lennon voted against two motions.

They agreed with Stier that the driveway permit should have complied with “all local regulations” requiring Malley to review the permit application against not only Chapter 17 of the town’s Zoning Ordinance, but also Chapter 16 of the town’s subdivision ordinance.

Lennon and Jordan also agreed with Stier that Stonegate Road was deeded to the town subject to a declaration between the developer and the subdivision homeowners association. The two councilors agreed that the declaration limits the town’s right to issue driveway permits over town-owned property and restricts what the town can do with the the deeded Stonegate Road. 

Because there were only four councilors voting, a split decision was not the majority needed by Stier.

“I imagine (the legal appeal) will take months, but the ultimate goal is to get a ruling that a house can be there, but the driveway will be on Mitchell Road,” he said.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

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