Media Archive

Sebec signs pact to end marina dispute

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 49, December 04, 2002

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

SEBEC – The board of selectmen and a local couple on Monday finalized a consent agreement that will allow the couple to re-open for business in the village.

The town's code enforcement officer, Bill Murphy, placed a stop work order on the marina business owned by William and Charlene Moriarty last June, alleging non-compliance with the permit issued by the planning board on April 24, 2001.

The sticking point, according to Murphy, was that the permit did not include the word marina.

After a month of negotiations between the town and the Moriartys÷and both parties' attorneys÷a consent agreement was signed Monday night.

The consent agreement acknowledges that "the express language of [the permit granted the Moriartys] is ambiguous when viewed in light of the circumstances surrounding the planning board's approval thereof." It further states that the ambiguity of the permit raises "significant questions regarding the permitted use and scope of uses permitted."

The consent agreement authorizes the Moriartys to maintain and operate the existing store and the marina, subject to the requirements of the shoreland zoning ordinance, local ordinances, and state and federal land-use and environmental laws. However, the consent agreement does not prevent the town from enforcing future violations at the property.

Selectmen Susan Dow and Buzz Small agreed to work out a consent agreement with the landowners, after meeting with the Moriartys and getting advice from the codes officer in October. Murphy outlined the legal process and informed the selectmen that they could overrule his stop work order by approving a consent decree.

Dow, at the time, stressed the need for closure and healing for the small community.

The town consulted with its attorney, David Gray of Dover-Foxcroft, and the Moriartys were represented by Bangor attorney Ed Bearor.

The Moriartys on Monday thanked the selectmen for addressing the situation, reversing the June 5 stop work order, and allowing the couple to re-open for business.

"Sebec Village Marina is open," Charlene Moriarty said.

Small said the town has incurred legal fees totaling $2,140 in dealing with the Moriarty permit stop work order and finalizing the consent agreement. "I'm assuming that will wrap it up," he said, adding that the bill will be paid from the general government account.

The appeals board two weeks ago turned down an appeal of the Moriarty permit, submitted by E. Forbes Smiley III, who operates the nearby Sebec Village Shops and Cafe.

Smiley's business is now under investigation. Code Enforcement Officer Murphy wrote a letter to the selectmen, dated Dec. 2, outlining his investigation, sparked by concerns of planning board members Walter Emmons and Mary Downs that Smiley has developed beyond the 20 percent lot coverage allowed in the shoreland zoning.

Murphy stated that he attempted twice to contact Smiley's attorney, Gregory Cunningham of Portland, to no avail. In the letter. Murphy said that the lack of communication could hinder the investigation and influence the final outcome.

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