Portland developer threatens lawsuit against Berwick

By Amanda Beland, Foster's Daily Democrat
Posted April 05, 2012, at 10:38 a.m.

BERWICK, Maine — The Board of Selectmen, Town Manager Keith Trefethen and Attorney Bruce Reid met for almost two hours in an approved executive session on Wednesday night to discuss the pending lawsuit to be filed against the town by Bateman Partners LLC over the construction project at the former Sullivan Street school.

New selectmen and Board Chair Bart Haley suggested the board not go into executive session to discuss the suit for several reasons. Haley didn’t think “possible litigation,” as described on the agenda, needed or required an executive session, and he thought it wasn’t good practice or transparent to hold an executive session during the first couple minutes of the board’s first meeting in almost two months.

Attorney Reid assured the board and the public that litigation was definite, not just “possible”. Reid said he had been told in very clear and strong language that Bateman would be suing the town. Reid said attorneys for the Portland developer would be reviewing town documents tomorrow at Town Hall.

While the rest of the board agreed with Haley that keeping the public informed and involved was important, they all also felt the need for the new board members to get caught up on the project and for the board as a whole to become versed on the future suit.

After almost two hours, the board emerged from their executive session and continued the meeting. The exact reasons for the suit were not made public.

Controversy arose when the town allegedly discovered Bateman Partners was building three-bedroom apartments and constructing a larger addition than was originally approved by the town’s Planning Board. The board voted for Bateman to build efficiencies and one- and two-bedroom apartments. The town said they were made aware after seeing an advertisement in Foster’s Daily Democrat advertising for one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

© 2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat

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