Landlord of proposed methadone clinic files suit against Warren

Posted May 20, 2013, at 5:08 p.m.

WARREN, Maine — A Rockport man who failed to get town permission to lease his property to a methadone clinic has filed a lawsuit in a Maine court.

The lawsuit by Robert N. Emery Jr. and his company Vixen Land Holdings LLC was filed last week in Knox County Superior Court, two months after a federal judge dismissed his claims, concluding he had no legal standing.

The town of Warren, in its response to the latest lawsuit, also maintains that Emery has no standing. Emery claimed that the town discriminated against opiate addicts under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. Emery believes the town’s actions prevented him from leasing property to the proposed methadone clinic.

In the state lawsuit, however, Emery is claiming only a breach of contract.

In the fall of 2010, Emery and Vixen Land Holdings met in a closed-door session with Warren town officials about his interest in the former Warren Primary School, which the town owns. Emery told officials he wanted to acquire, renovate and lease the building to CRC Health Group Inc. of California for a methadone clinic to treat people with opiate addictions.

On Oct. 6, 2010, he filed a site plan application with the town and on Oct. 9 the town and Emery entered into a purchase and sales agreement. Emery then signed an agreement two weeks later to lease the property to CRC.

The project received initial approval by the town that month, but once the public learned of the plans, there was a groundswell of opposition. In response to the community reaction, selectmen approved a moratorium on methadone clinics in December 2010.

Months later, the town notified Emery it was terminating the purchase and sales agreement.

Emery claims he has suffered financial losses because of the action.

Emery is represented by attorney L. John Topchik of Portland and Warren is represented by attorney William Kelly of Belfast.

While Emery’s federal lawsuit against the town has been dismissed, CRC’s discrimination lawsuit in U.S. District Court remains active.

The CRC case was scheduled for trial in July, but that has been postponed and no new date has been set. Magistrate Judge John Rich III has given parties until July 19 to file additional motions.

The town and CRC reached a tentative settlement in September 2011 but CRC reactivated the lawsuit in October 2012 when its proposal to have the clinic at another location, owned by Emery off Route 1, was stalled by appeals from neighbors.

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