May 27, 2018
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LL Bean heiress wins another round with neighbors in Wyeth Reading Room conflict

Courtesy Town of St. George | BDN
Courtesy Town of St. George | BDN
Linda Bean's proposed Wyeth Reading Room in Port Clyde.
By Lauren Abbate, BDN Staff

Six appeals against the St. George Planning Board’s decision to allow Linda Bean to build a Wyeth Reading Room in Port Clyde were rejected by the town’s board of appeals this week.

The project, a 1,500-square-foot center dedicated to the Wyeth family, has been a source of contention in the town since it was proposed last winter. A group of residents who live on Horse Point Road in Port Clyde ― where the center will be built ― has been vocal in opposition to the project, citing safety concerns related to traffic on the narrow, and primarily residential road.

In unanimous votes on Tuesday, the five-member appeals board upheld the planning board’s decision to approve the project. Tuesday’s meeting was a continuation of a public hearing held two weeks prior on the appeals targeting the Wyeth Reading Room.

Per town ordinance, opponents of the project now have 45 days to take their appeals to Knox County Superior Court, a step that Patrick Mellor ― an attorney representing the Horse Point Road group ― said they are considering.

Appeals filed against the project included several concerns about the planning board’s process and ultimate approval of Bean’s proposal, according to a Nov. 16 written submission to the board appeals.

In the document, Mellor argues that the planning board did not follow procedural due process, in part, because a planning board member, Michael Jordan, who voted in favor of the project, did not join the board until Aug. 8, months after the application for the project was submitted.

After joining the board, Jordan familiarized himself with the materials and discussion related to the Wyeth Room project. However, based on an affidavit that listed the materials Jordan read, Mellor argues he did not read the full record of complaints lodged by opponents of the project.

The board of appeals, rejected this complaint, maintaining that the documents that included these complaints were available at the town office ― to Jordan and to anyone who wished to read them. This access satisfied the board, stating that based on the materials Jordan read, he had enough information to cast his vote.

Mellor also argues that a full record of the planning board process is being withheld from the public because a court reporter hired by Bean to record full transcripts of the meetings is not being allowed to release her transcripts.

Mellor contacted the court reporter to obtain a copy of the meeting transcripts when it became clear the opposition group was going to file an appeal against the project. The reporter told Mellor that Bean’s attorney, Paul Gibbons, told her that if she released the transcripts, Bean would take legal action.

The appeals board rejected this complaint on the grounds that the town has its own record of the proceedings.

Bean, a businesswoman, is an heir to the L.L. Bean family fortune. She owns several businesses and properties in Port Clyde, including the Port Clyde General Store and the Seaside Inn.

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