2015-02-13 / Letters

Town should end beach litigation

To the editor:

An open letter to the Kennebunkport Board of Selectmen.

We are Kennebunkport property owners, nonplaintiffs, who urge our board of selectmen to put an end to the Goose Rocks Beach litigation for these reasons:

1. The Maine Supreme Court has ruled unanimously twice that the town of Kennebunkport does not have a prescriptive easement – public right – over Goose Rocks Beach from river to river.

2. The litigation has cost town taxpayers considerably more than the $1.1 million authorized by town vote. Residents deserve a full accounting of the actual costs to date and the potential future legal costs should litigation continue.

3. The Supreme Court recognized the importance of the Maine tradition of private property owners permitting the public to use their land knowing that no public easement or right accrues from such use.

The town’s continued lot-by-lot prescriptive easement claim over the whole beach undermines Maine’s tradition of public use of private land.

4. The Supreme Court recently awarded the beachfront owners costs of $11,000 as the prevailing party in the prescriptive easement litigation, and the Supreme Court warned that the town will be liable to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees if the town’s lot-by-lot easement claims over the whole beach are defended in any future litigation.

5. The Beach Settlement Agreement ratifies public access easements to more than half of the privately-owned beach.

6. No public support has been expressed to continue litigation.

7. The claims of other groups that supported the town’s position – The Surf Riders Association and the back lot owners – have been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

8. The town’s decision to pursue further litigation should be driven less by the economics of tourism than by the total cost and likelihood of legal success.

9. The best option now is for the town to drop all legal claims and encourage the beachfront owners to allow public use of their private property, without municipal regulatory mandates.

10. Please read the recent rulings, especially page 18, footnote 17 in the most recent ruling dated Dec. 9, 2014, and on page 12 of The Order on Motions for Consideration. Both online at http://courts. maine. gov/ opinions_ orders/ supreme/ lawcourt/2014/2014_ index.shtml.

Bill and Brenda Case, Ralph and Cindy Clement, Jon Eagleson and Susan Graham, Dave James, Ed and Bev Keough, Ernestine Lyman, Norm and Judy Merrill, Clif Nelson and Alyson Daniels, Lyman Page, Dennis Rogers, Bill and Linda Wade Kennebunkport

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