Yarmouth neighbors drop lawsuit against proposed McKearney Village subdivision

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YARMOUTH — Six residents who sued the town and developers to block the planned McKearney Village subdivision off Hillside Road have withdrawn their complaint.

Plaintiffs Bruce and Suzanne Jones, Mary Dowd, Carroll Dunn, and Greg and Kara Salvadore on Aug. 25 appealed the Planning Board’s approval of the project in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland.

But Suzanne Jones this week said it was too expensive to try to fight the project. Their civil lawsuit was dropped on Oct. 30.

“We believe we have a good case, but we do not have the financial resources to battle the town of Yarmouth and the developer Peter Benard through a lengthy appeal process,” Jones said Monday in an email.

She said the residents still believe their concerns about the density of the project, and its impact on wetlands and public safety are valid. But funding “is a major hurdle that we cannot overcome.”

“The pockets of individuals cannot compete with those of big business,” Jones said. “It seems all too true that ordinary citizens really can’t fight City Hall.”

The plaintiffs wanted the court to reverse the Planning Board’s approval of the subdivision, which would contain 38 single-family homes, a 32-unit mutli-family building and nearly 60 parking spaces.

Since it was first presented to the board in January 2010, the project has been challenged by neighbors over cut-through traffic, safety, environmental issues and the Planning Board process and public notification.

The Planning Board eventually approved the subdivision on July 27.

Jones said the lawsuit has cost $6,500. After the developer’s lawyer filed a motion to intervene, the costs were expected to significantly increase, she said.

“We couldn’t anticipate how many more motions there would be,” Jones said. “We tried to generate funds from neighbors, but it was unknown going forward what we would have to raise.”

The developer’s attorney, John Bannon of Murray, Plumb & Murray in Portland, said Tuesday that Benard is pleased to move beyond the court case.

“It’s a good project, and with the elimination of that complaint that good project can go forward sooner rather than later,” he said.

Jones said even though the case has ended, she feels as though the neighbors were successful in getting the Planning Board to decide against a vehicle cut-through from the Applewood neighborhood to Hillside Street. Instead, the board approved a plan for bicycle and pedestrian passage, she said. 

“This appeal has been about a matter a principal,” she said. “It’s been more about the process and citizen rights to have their concerns heard.”

Jones said the residents are willing to work with the town and the developer to make the project the best it can be.

“There has never been anyone that said we didn’t want anything there, but we want it to be reasonable,” Jones said. “The project is a win for the property owner, the developer, and even the Applewood neighborhood, because of the opportunity for connection through the bicycle and pedestrian access. There is no way this couldn’t have been a win-win for everybody, but just not at the expense of other people.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson

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