CUMBERLAND, Maine — With a developer and the town just days away from consummating a beach property acquisition endorsed by voters on Election Day, opponents continue to claim the deal is illegal.

On Nov. 4, Cumberland voters narrowly supported the town’s $3 million purchase of the Payson property at 179 Foreside Road. The vote was 2,372 to 2,126.

The Bateman Group, a development company, signed an agreement in June to buy the more than 100-acre property from the family of Marion Payson, which comprises Spears Hill LLC.

Nathan Bateman said Wednesday that his firm plans to complete the purchase by Friday, Dec. 19.

The town plans to buy its acreage from the developer immediately afterward, Town Manager Bill Shane said Wednesday.

There are three homes on the land, and Bateman plans to build another seven, as allowed by a conservation easement.

The town’s purchase is nearly 25 acres, including 2,200 feet of shoreline and a 200-foot pier. Supporters have said the acquisition would accomplish a long-time town goal to provide public waterfront access. Funds for the acquisition would be bonded over 20 years, at a cost of $240,000 per year.

Opponents — including Spears Hill and some residents of the adjoining Wildwood neighborhood, whose private beach would abut the public land — have argued that the Payson beach is worth less than the purchase price; that other areas of shoreline access, with more potential for public use, can be found; that the sale proceeded too quickly and without sufficient transparency, and that recreation access at the property is not feasible.

In the latest attempt to derail the purchase, a Dec. 2 letter from attorney Scott Anderson to the Town Council, on behalf of Spears Hill, argues that a conservation easement on the property limits public use to avoid sensitive resources being damaged, and that the town’s planned use does not satisfy the easement’s overall purpose.

That use “constitutes a form of development above and beyond what is allowed under the easement and as such compromises the careful balance between limited development and protection of the property’s unique conservation attributes,” Anderson said in the letter. “There would be a significant increase in vehicle use (and new parking and road facilities to support such use) beyond what would occur in connection with 10 residences.

“Thus, not only is the town’s proposed use expressly prohibited by the terms of the easement, but it is inconsistent with the narrow public use permitted under the easement and the core ecological, habitat and resource values the easement seeks to protect, and it is prohibited on that additional basis.”

Anderson noted that while letters to the town have expressed concern about the legality of its proposal, “we have not seen a written response from the town or any legal analysis by the town demonstrating that its proposal is allowed under the easement. In light of the legal issues raised by Spears Hill LLC and others, it would be reckless for the town to proceed with a $3 million acquisition without a written legal opinion or court determination that it may develop the property as intended.”

Anderson said Thursday that the type of development proposed by Bateman is “clearly permitted” under the easement’s terms, and that the Payson family has no issue with that.

“The primary concern that the Payson family has is … the scope of the activity that the town is planning to do on the remainder of the property,” Anderson said.

Wildwood Association President Paul Evans echoed that assertion in a Dec. 8 letter to the Town Council.

“In view of the substantial challenge to the legality of the town’s proposed use of the Payson estate, it would be a disservice to the citizens of Cumberland for the town to spend [$3 million] to acquire a portion of the Payson estate, without having obtained prior, satisfactory assurances, in writing, that its proposed uses of that property are lawful,” Evans said.

“Conspicuously absent at this time is any written opinion from the town’s own attorneys, or any other form of written assurance,” he added.

The town wants to retain most parking in a 12,000-square-foot, 25-spot, gravel lot near Foreside Road, a half mile from the beach. Eight spaces in a 400-square-foot lot closer to the beach would be designated, with parking on grass, while four handicapped spots would be available at the access road’s turnaround loop. That loop also could be a drop-off area for cars that park near Foreside Road.

A buffer of 54 trees has been proposed between the public area and Wildwood. A future bathroom facility could include a composting toilet.

An Ocean Access Committee was formed by the Town Council to meet with the town attorney on the conservation easement and protection of the natural qualities of the property, and ultimately to develop a facility use plan.

Public input would be included in that plan, which would require approval by the Town Council and Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust.

Penny Asherman, president of the trust — the Payson property’s steward for 17 years — told the town in a Sept. 30 letter that while there are “challenges inherent in managing increased public access while maintaining other conservation values on the Payson property, the [Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust] board strongly believes that expanded access to the property, which is permitted under the easement, if managed properly, can occur while still protecting the natural and scenic features of this remarkable property.”

Asherman noted that more visitors to the property will inevitably create an impact, and that the land trust will need to “manage, monitor and attempt to minimize the impacts of more visitors in ways that respect the natural and scenic resources.”

Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust has asked the town to look into methods of managing access, such as limiting the number of parking spaces, having limited hours of operation and creating a resident permit system. The trust also asked, among other things, that dogs be prohibited from the beach year-round to protect water quality, birds and beach grasses, and that smoking and fireworks be banned.

On Dec. 9, Shane told the Ocean Access Committee that the council, town attorney and land trust attorneys agree with Asherman’s Sept. 30 letter, “and the voters of Cumberland supported that position by their decision at the referendum vote.”

He added that the town attorney has reviewed the conservation easement “and nothing has changed regarding the town’s position.”

Nathan Bateman said Wednesday that his company has valid agreements with Spears Hill and the town, and the green light from Cumberland voters.

“So I don’t really know what else there is to do other than continue to move forward,” Bateman said.

“I’ll be very happy when this transaction is completely accomplished,” he added.