Opponent of Harpswell beach access puts property up for sale

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HARPSWELL — Cedar Beach property owner Betsy Atkins, who is appealing a court ruling allowing public access to the beach, is selling her home.

Atkins, through her Florida-based real estate company Gables LLC, bought the home and road leading to Cedar Beach from the Abrahamson family in 2014. The Abrahamsons were the original defendants in a public access lawsuit brought in Maine Superior Court by the nonprofit group Cedar Beach/Cedar Island Supporters.

Atkins is now the appellant in the appeal before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, where oral arguments are expected this fall.

“This is currently a private road and I seek to make sure it remains a private road,” Atkins told the lower court, according to a trial transcript.

When Atkins purchased the property, CB/CIS President Mike Helfgott said the increased financial resources her company provided assured there would be an appeal.

In September 2014, Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Nancy Mills ruled in favor of CB/CIS, establishing a public easement across the 1,008-foot road leading to the beach.

Atkins, through Gables, bought the road from the Abrahmsons in June 2014 for $95,000, according to town property transfer records.

She bought the Abrahamson home for nearly $1.58 million, also in June, through a different shell company, Neighbors of Cedar Beach LLC.

Her attorney, Christian Chandler of Portland-based Curtis Thaxter, confirmed Aug. 13 that Neighbors of Cedar Beach is Atkins’ company.

Now the house is on the market, listed for just under $1.53 million by Century 21 Baribeau Agency. The almost 4,000-square-foot home sits on a 1.12-acre lot, and has six bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths, according to the listing.

“Enjoy spectacular views of the famous crib stone bridge from this beautiful waterfront retreat situated on just over 1 acre of land with deep water dock and sandy beach,” the listing states.

Chandler said that the sale of the property would not affect the case before the high court.

On Friday, CB/CIS President Mike Helfgott also said the sale would have “zero impact on the case.”

“If she wants to sell it, I hope she’s successful,” he said. “Nobody should have to keep a property that they don’t want.”

But, he said, the small sandy beach on that property, which was not originally part of the Cedar Beach litigation, could be subject to another court case in the future.

“We have always felt that same principle that allowed us to win victory before Judge Mills … applied also to the (beach on the) home parcel,” he said.

He said CB/CIS has registered that claim in the land record so that “any person who buys the house from Atkins would know right up from the start that there’s a claim on that property that says townspeople have the right to walk across … to get to the small beach.”

Atkins also owns another Cedar Beach home, on Cragmoor Lane, according to town records.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Betsy Atkins’ Harpswell home at 99 Cedar Beach Road, which abuts a now-public easement to Cedar Beach, is for sale.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.