Wreath-makers’ land dispute still undecided

Posted Oct. 16, 2009, at 8:11 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:55 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A right-of-way lawsuit that halted construction of a major wreath-making facility still is undecided, despite extensive testimony in Hancock County Superior Court on Friday.

David Whitney of Whitney Originals said that Justice Kevin Cuddy has given the attorneys for both Whitney and Worcester Holdings LLC more time to file pleadings in the case.

“He expects to make a decision on the injunctive relief sometime in November,” Whitney said Friday afternoon.

The injunctive relief that Worcester is seeking includes removal of the new warehouse Whitney is building on U.S. Route 1 just over the Machias town line in Whitneyville.

The lawsuit is centered on a right of way Worcester Holdings LLC maintains it has to land behind Whitney’s roadside property. When Whitney constructed the building over this past summer, Morrill Worcester charged that it was built directly over his right of way.

When asked last month about the lawsuit, Worcester denied that he filed it because he lost a major L.L. Bean contract to Whitney.

Whitney maintains that the right of way is not listed on his deeds to the property.

“We own the piece of land in back there,” Worcester said in a recent interview. “It will eventually be used as tip land.” Tips are the part of the evergreens used for wreath making.

“The problem is there is a great big swamp in the middle of the land and the only way we can access it is through our right of way,” Worcester said. He added that the right of way is listed in his deed to the land.

In court documents, however, Whitney Originals maintains that the easement that Worcester Holdings claims — across what is called Old Longfellow Meadow Road — was not recorded when Whitney became the owner of the property in September 1982.

The documents also state that Old Longfellow Meadow Road actually goes behind a nearby plumbing and heating company, coming out on its east side to meet U.S. Route 1. Construction is not occurring on Old Longfellow Meadow Road, the suit states.

Whitney halted construction on the warehouse when the suit was filed this July in Washington County Superior Court and said Friday that he has “been buttoned up for the winter.” To house the parts of his wreath-making operation that would have been in the new warehouse, Whitney has leased three buildings — the former Rite Aid in Machias, a building in Baileyville and another in Presque Isle.

When asked last month about the lawsuit, Worcester denied that he filed it because he lost a major L.L. Bean contract to Whitney.

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