Media Archive

Smiley vs. Sebec lawsuit settled

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 14, April 07, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Court decision sides with town

SEBEC A Superior Court judge has sided with the town of Sebec and the proprietors of a local boat marina and ice cream shop in an appeal of the business owners' right to operate in the village.

Justice Nancy Mills issued a decision and order March 25 affirming the town's issuance of an April 2001 permit that allows William and Charlene Moriarty to operate their business in Sebec Village. It also affirms the board of selectmen's signing of a consent agreement with the couple to clarify the permit's language and allow the lifting of a cease work order issued by the town's code enforcement officer.

The appeal was filed by E. Forbes Smiley III, owner of Sebec Village Shops and a resident of Sebec and Martha's Vineyard. Sebec Village Shops is located across the street from the Moriartys' property in the village.

Smiley's appeal, filed in December 2002, was based on concerns about on-site parking, authorization of the sale of boats at the property, constitution of the board of appeals and the authority of the board of selectmen to enter into a consent agreement.

Justice Mills noted that the board of appeals considered the town's standards for parking and determined there was "adequate parking on the street to accommodate the proposed uses of the Moriarty

She wrote that the appeals board did not commit a legal error by allowing boats for sale on the property, as asserted by the plaintiff. The condition. Mills wrote, deals more so with the issue of vegetative lot coverage, and requires that any boats parked on the lot are on a trailer or elevated so that vegetation grows under the boats. "The Town concedes that the condition does not authorize the Moriartys to sell boats," she continued.

Regarding Smiley's concern of the appeals board's makeup. Mills wrote that the selectmen are authorized to appoint associate members to that board. Smiley asserted that the town itself should appoint associate members. "There was no error of law or abuse of discretion with respect to the [board of selectmen's] appointment of associate members," wrote Mills.

In addition. Mills supported the board of selectmen's decision to enter into a consent agreement with the Moriartys. "The decision ... is legal, supported by substantial evidence on the record, and does not indicate any abuse of discretion," she wrote.

Mills further stated that "there is no evidence of bad faith on the part of the Moriartys."

"I would just like to express how pleased I am with the outcome," Charlene Moriarty said to the board of selectmen at Monday's meeting. "I hope we can now try to work toward a positive goal in the village."

Buzz Small, chairman of the board of selectmen, said, "What struck me is that the Superior Court Judge's logic in her findings was near the same as the selectmen's interpretation."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.