BAR HARBOR, Maine — In the latest round of a seven-year saga over a proposed pier in the local village of Salisbury Cove, a judge has ruled in Hancock County Superior Court that the Maine Board of Environmental Protection was correct in denying a permit to build the structure.
The Oct. 24 ruling may not be the end of the story, however, according to the applicants’ lawyer.
Bangor attorney Edmond Bearor said this week that there is a good chance the case will be appealed to the state supreme court — again.
“In all likelihood, yes,” Bearor said Tuesday. “I suspect so.”
Anthony and Erin Uliano first applied to the state for a permit to build a 95-foot-long pier and float system in front of their property on Eastern Bay in 2001. The application initially was approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection, but after neighbors objected to the proposal and appealed to the Maine BEP, the board overturned the decision. The pier, BEP decided, would have an adverse impact on the predominantly natural setting of Eastern Bay, which separates Mount Desert Island from Lamoine and Trenton.
The Ulianos appealed the decision on the grounds that the reasoning cited by BEP was too vague to be constitutional. They appealed to Hancock County Superior Court, which upheld the BEP ruling, and then in 2005 appealed that decision to the state supreme court, which sent the matter back to BEP for reconsideration. BEP again denied the pier permit last year, which resulted in the Ulianos again appealing the BEP decision in Superior Court.
“Needless to say, this matter has been thoroughly and thoughtfully litigated to this point,” Justice Kevin Cuddy wrote in his decision on Oct. 24.
Bearor said he believes the Ulianos have the same argument for appealing the case to the state supreme court as they did the first time around.
“We have the same grounds we had before,” Bearor said. “I would say [the BEP ruling] is void for vagueness.”
Bearor said that though Cuddy upheld the most recent BEP decision, the judge was critical of the explanation BEP staff gave for recommending to the board that the application be denied.
“That speaks volumes for this situation,” Bearor said. “Obviously, we’re disappointed with his conclusion and feel it warrants an appeal to the Law Court.”
Mary Opdyke, an abutting property owner who has been a vocal opponent of the pier proposal, said Friday that she and other people in the neighborhood are happy with Cuddy’s decision. She said, however, that she realizes it might not be the end of the dispute.
“I personally want [the bay] to stay the way it is,” Opdyke said. “I think [the case] is costing a lot of money and wasting a lot of time.”