CUSHING, Maine — Selectmen have accepted a $50,000 payment to end its long legal battle with a developer over land-use violations.
The case goes back about five years and involves multiple parties.
The town was awarded $137,000 plus legal costs nearly three years ago in Knox County Superior Court against James Tower’s company, Cushing Holdings LLC. The town had been seeking fines from Cushing Holdings for violations of land-use laws such as cutting trees in shoreland zones to create several waterfront residential subdivisions.
Last year, the town filed another lawsuit against Tower, Cushing Holdings, and Engineering Dynamics Inc. claiming Tower fraudulently transferred assets from Cushing Holdings to the Tower-owned Engineering Dynamics to avoid paying the court-ordered judgment.
Alton Grover, chairman of the Cushing Board of Selectmen, acknowledged on Wednesday, Feb. 22, that the $50,000 settlement was less than the $137,000 judgment awarded the town but that selectmen decided this was the best way to end the case.
“We have spent quite a lot of money on legal costs,” Grover said. He estimated the town’s legal expenses from this case at $40,000.
Selectman Daniel Staples agreed, noting that in the end the town was not sure whether it would get any money. The town received the settlement check about eight days ago.
The selectmen added that the $50,000 did not even come from Tower or any of his companies but from a contractor who also was involved in a lawsuit with Tower.
D.L. Overlock Excavation of Owls Head sued Tower for money owed for road work done in the residential subdivisions between 2004 and 2006.
Tower counter sued, however, saying the work was not done properly and he won a Knox County Superior Court judgement in May 2011, awarding Cushing Holdings $423,000 from D.L. Overlock.
Overlock appealed that superior court ruling to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. But a stipulation of dismissal was filed Feb. 6 in Knox County Superior Court. Dwight Overlock said Wednesday that the court determined his appeal was not filed in time.
Shortly after that dismissal, Overlock’s wife, Sheryl, bought the town of Cushing’s judgment against Cushing Holdings and Tower. That $137,000 judgment, with interest, is now worth nearly $200,000. Sheryl Overlock paid the town $50,000 for the rights to the judgment. Dwight Overlock said Wednesday that his attorney had suggested that move, but he said he could not explain why.
Telephone calls to the attorneys for D.L. Overlock and Tower were not returned Wednesday.
Staples estimated that about 17 to 21 homes have been built in the subdivisions that total nearly 60 lots. The unsold lots, however, have been taken by Machias Savings Bank which foreclosed on the properties along the Meduncook River in 2008.
“We have washed our hands of Mr. Tower,” Staples noted.