June 20, 2018
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Private property owner cut public Cliff Walk out of plans for York Harbor land

Deb Cram | The York Weekly
Deb Cram | The York Weekly
A York Harbor resident has submitted a revision to his oceanfront property that does not include the Cliff Walk on the plan.
By Susan Morse, The York Weekly

YORK, Maine — The Friends of the Cliff Walk are expected to turn out in force Thursday for a Planning Board meeting in which a York Harbor resident has submitted a revision to his oceanfront property that does not include the Cliff Walk on the plan.

Town Planner Dylan Smith said he has recommended to the Planning Board that it not approve the plan by Peradventure Way property owner Richard Rubin until it includes the Cliff Walk.

A 15-foot Cliff Walk buffer was included in earlier, 1986 plans for the property signed by the Rubins, according to Planning Board documents and Ted Little, a spokesman for the Friends who said he would be representing the group before the Planning Board on Thursday.

The public meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the York Public Library.

Rubin is asking for permission to combine two lots into one on a previously approved subdivision on Peradventure Way. The Rubins own three lots in the area, living on one and wanting to combine the other adjacent two, according to Planning Board documents and Little.

Richard Rubin is being represented by Bill Anderson of Anderson-Livingston Engineers of York.

Smith has told Anderson changes needed to be made to the documents, including the addition of the Cliff Walk to the plan, he said Wednesday. Anderson is making several changes to materials being submitted, but Smith said he does not know whether those changes include adding the Cliff Walk to the plans.

Neither Anderson nor Rubin could be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

In an email, Little told members of the Friends he does not believe Anderson or Rubin are abiding the town’s request.

“It puts us on high alert if they push the envelope to the point it does not show [the Cliff Walk],” Little said Wednesday.

The Cliff Walk starts at York Harbor Beach and ends at a fence erected by Milbury Lane resident Milton Peterson. Rubin, his neighbor, extended a wall on his property to block further Cliff Walk access, according to Little.

Should the Planning Board deny Rubin’s request, the matter could go to the Board of Appeals and perhaps to court, Little acknowledged.

“We don’t want that to happen,” Little said. “But if we don’t insist that it be shown, we’re losing an opportunity. The Rubins are not bad people, we don’t want to make it confrontational.”

There is currently $80,000 in a fund to defend the public’s right to walk the Cliff Walk, according to Little.

Community Development Director Steve Burns, who oversees the planning department, said before York moves forward to uphold the public’s right to use the Cliff Walk, town officials were waiting to get the status of the state Supreme Court’s reconsideration of the precedent-setting Goose Rocks Beach case. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of private property owners over the public’s right to use Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport.

The Cliff Walk is referenced on previous plans for the Peradventure Way property, and those same conditions should go forward on any new plans, Burns said.

“Whatever public right is there today, we want to make sure we don’t do something to lose that public right,” Burns said Wednesday. “We don’t want to do something to jeopardize the town’s position.”

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