June 19, 2018
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Milbridge seeks dismissal of legal challenge to new municipal building

By Tom Walsh, BDN Staff

MILBRIDGE, Maine — The Town of Milbridge claims that a lawsuit filed over plans to build a new municipal building is groundless and has asked that it be dismissed.

The suit filed last month by Milbridge resident Nicholas Giusti in superior court in Machias claims that a Feb. 13 special town meeting was flawed by “procedural irregularities.” During the meeting voters approved plans to tear down the circa-1900 former schoolhouse that now houses town offices, the police department, the ambulance service and the public library.

The $578,000 project is dependent on approval of a $258,000 community development block grant now under review by the state’s fffice of economic development. If approved, the town will put up an additional $320,000, with $160,000 coming from a 15-year loan, $65,000 from the library’s endowment, $60,000 from surplus funds and $35,000 from a building reserve fund.

The town’s response to the suit notes that “all duly registered voters present at the special town meeting were afforded the opportunity to vote.” Of the 206 votes cast, 110 voters favored the project.

Giusti claims in his suit that there was no public notice of the meeting, an allegation the town contests, saying that advance notice was posted in three “conspicuous” places.

Giusti’s suit asks that the project not move forward until the matter goes to trial. That would prove problematic, the town claims.

“A stay would harm the ability of the town to proceed with a project that has been approved by the voters,” the town said in its response to Giusti’s suit. “[It would] prevent the town from proceeding with its application for a Community Development Block Grant and also preclude the town from doing building design.”

If Giusti’s legal challenge is dismissed and the CDBG grant is approved, the town expects the new building to be ready for occupancy before year’s end.

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