June 20, 2018
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Warren sets hearing and vote on lawsuit settlement of building sale

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

WARREN, Maine — A public informational meeting will be held Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Warren Community School to discuss a proposed out-of-court settlement over the aborted sale of the town’s former primary school.

Interim Town Manager Glenn Aho and town attorney William Kelly will explain the proposed settlement, take questions from townspeople, and address any concerns over the agreement at the 7 p.m. meeting, according to a news release issued Friday.

A special town meeting to act on the proposal is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at the community school. If the agreement is not approved, the selectmen and Kelly will continue to defend the town against the lawsuit brought by Robert Emery Jr., the town said.

Board Chairman Douglas Pope and other selectmen recently said the agreement is the best outcome for the town in settling the matter without further court action and costs, the news release stated.

The proposed agreement calls for the former school to be auctioned with the proceeds split 60 percent for Emery and 40 percent for the town.

The deal would end a lawsuit brought by Robert Emery Jr. and his company Vixen Land Holdings LLC against the town after it reneged on selling the property to him in 2010 when it became public that he planned to lease the site for a methadone clinic.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this year in Knox County Superior Court, is on hold pending the outcome of the proposed settlement. The two sides agreed on Oct. 1 to put the case on hold, according to court records.

The building was constructed in 1963 and was originally Warren High School. The building became an elementary school after Medomak Valley High School opened in 1968. School Administrative District 40 turned the property over to the town in 2007 after it stopped using it.

At a special town meeting in September 2013, residents overwhelmingly approved spending $60,000 to demolish the former school building. That demolition, however, was put on hold at the advice of the town’s attorney in response to Emery’s lawsuit.

Another lawsuit by CRC Health Group, which originally planned to lease the property from Emery, remains active in U.S. District Court. No trial date has been scheduled for that case, in which CRC claims the town discriminated against it because it wanted to offer a clinic to treat opiate addicts.

Warren had agreed to a settlement with CRC in 2011 but the California-based company asked for the case to be put back on the schedule after months of planning board review on CRC’s newer proposal to establish the methadone clinic at the intersection of Route 1 and Short Street. The Warren Planning Board approved the project last year but neighbors of the proposed clinic filed an appeal before the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals. That appeal was dropped when CRC withdrew its application to locate a clinic in Warren. The company, however, is still pursuing its lawsuit against the town.

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