June 24, 2018
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Judge rules Owls Head ‘bridge’ permit was legal

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Superior Court judge has sided with the town of Owls Head in an appeal of a building permit granted for a 60-foot-long walkway that a neighbor claims is a bridge.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm ruled that the community’s code enforcement officer was the proper person to have issued the permit and that neighbor Richard Hurlbert failed to file his appeal in a timely manner.

The local code officer issued a permit in May 2010 to Robert and Kathleen Pratt for a 60-foot-long, 4-foot-wide structure to be built over a wet part of their property on Beach Street, which runs off Hendrickson Point Road. The Pratts planned to use the structure for access to the shore when the ground was wet.

Hurlbert argued that he was not notified as an abutting property owner and claimed that the “bridge” would harm wildlife habitat. He notified the code enforcement officer of his opposition in November 2010 and filed an appeal of the issuance of the permit to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals in February 2011.

Hurlbert told the appeals board in a March letter that he was concerned about the proximity of the structure to his cabin.

“We are concerned about the proximity of a bridge to our cabin and other detrimental effects this will have, for example, the noise and noxious odor of gasoline engines. Our cabin is a source of income for us and a joyful and peaceful place for us to relax and unwind in nature,” Hurlbert stated in his letter to the zoning board.

The zoning board considered the appeal at its March meeting and ruled that Hulbert’s appeal was filed too late. He then filed an appeal to Knox County Superior Court in April.

The structure has been built.

Owls Head Code Enforcement Officer Scott Bickford praised the ruling.

“Plain and simple this was a frivolous lawsuit,” Bickford said.

A telephone message left for Hurlbert was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Hurlbert has until the end of the week to file an appeal of Hjelm’s Feb. 3 ruling to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

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