Owls Head approves more money for legal fight to protect waterfront access

Posted March 05, 2013, at 10:49 a.m.
Last modified March 05, 2013, at 12:18 p.m.

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OWLS HEAD, Maine — Residents gave their support Monday night to continue a fight to preserve a town easement on a road that leads to the waterfront.

Voters also agreed at a special town meeting to approve a zone change that will allow the former keeper’s house at the Owls Head Lighthouse to be used for a museum.

Fifty-four people turned out for the meeting and agreed to spend an additional $15,000 to defend a lawsuit filed in November 2011 by Darlene F. Edwards and Lewis M. Edwards III of Saugerties, N.Y. This was the second special town meeting held to fund the defense of the lawsuit. In December 2011, nearly 100 people overwhelmingly agreed to spend $50,000.

The Edwards, who own property near the end of Coopers Beach Road, have asked a judge in Knox County Superior Court to rule that the town has no easement over the road.

The town maintains it approved one in 1986. The town plows to the end of the road and in return, the public is allowed to use the road.

The Edwards lawsuit also names several neighbors, although the town is only defending its position that it has an easement over the road that leads off North Shore Drive.

During Monday’s meeting, town attorney William Dale of South Portland made a presentation on the status of the lawsuit which could go to trial this summer.

Residents have voiced support for the town’s position in the past as a way to send a message to people from out of state who own property near the waterfront.

On Monday, residents also approved a zone change to allow the American Lighthouse Foundation to have its offices at the former keeper’s house and to allow the organization to use it as an education center.

The light tower next to the keeper’s house was erected in 1825. The original keeper’s house was built at about the same time but was razed and replaced with the current house in 1854.

The light was automated in 1989 and ended the necessity of a Coast Guard keeper living at the house. Coast Guard personnel, however, still lived in the house until 2009.

Also at the special town meeting, residents agreed to accept Freedom Drive as a town roadway.

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