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A hearing will be held Oct. 13 in York District Court to determine whether to drop a defendant in the town’s case against the owners of the Pizza by Paras building at York Beach. A date for a daylong hearing on the merits of the case itself has been set for Nov. 1.
A flurry of paperwork has been submitted to the court in the time since the town filed a land use complaint July 31 against Eleni and Ernest Paras, their son, Spiro Paras, and lawyer JP Nadeau, trustee of the 16 Railroad Avenue Trust.
At the heart of many of the motions and countermotions is whether the trust and Nadeau as trustee should be dismissed as a defendant from the town’s complaint. Nadeau filed two motions in this regard — the first to dismiss the trust itself and a second clarifying motion to dismiss himself as well as the trust. This was done after town attorney Dan Murphy pointed out that it’s Nadeau, not the trust itself, that is the defendant.
According to court records, Ernest and Eleni Paras conveyed the property to the trust last April. “The sole purpose of the trust,” wrote Nadeau in his motion, “was for me to try and bring 16 Railroad Avenue into compliance with the town of York ordinances.”
Because he had been “unable to exercise control of the … property necessary to fulfill the purpose of the trust,” the couple wanted it deeded back to them just two months later in June. However, the transfer back to the Parases was not recorded in the registry until Sept. 13, six weeks after the town filed its complaint.
“It wasn’t recorded because it was being reconsidered whether to terminate the trust or not,” he said in an interview. “The whole objective was to work amicably. Up until it was recorded, there was still hope on my end to be able to accomplish what Mrs. Paras and I set out to accomplish. In the end, I determined I wasn’t going to be effective.”
In fact, in a separate ruling last month, Judge Michael Cantara allowed Nadeau to withdraw as counsel to the Parases and as counsel to the trust, leaving his only tie with the case his position as trustee of the trust. He argues he has no relationship with the property or no money involved in it. Further, he said, he had no ties to the property during the time when the town states that serious building code and life safety violations were discovered.
But Murphy objected strenuously to Nadeau’s arguments. In court documents, he states that it is indisputable that Nadeau, as the sole trustee of the trust, “was the sole owner of the property from April 12, 2017 through no earlier than June 29, 2017, a time period for which code violations continued unabated.” Nadeau thus remains liable for these violations, Murphy wrote.
The Oct. 13 hearing involves Nadeau’s first motion to dismiss just the trust, which Murphy argued should have been denied outright because the trust is not a named defendant. However, Cantara still ordered the hearing.
Nadeau did file a motion to continue because he is going to be out of town Oct. 13, but Cantara denied the motion. In his objection, Murphy wrote that any continuance “threatens to derail” the Nov. 1 hearing on the merits, “but should not be permitted to do so.” Nadeau will participate on Oct. 13 by phone.
Town Manager Steve Burns did express concern about Nadeau’s request to continue, voicing frustration at another delay in what has been “a years-long effort to get these violations addressed. It is way past time for this to be resolved.”
However, Nadeau took some umbrage with Burns’ viewpoint, calling it “an overreaction. They know we were working in good faith. If that’s his position, that is only going to give credence to Spiro’s claim that he’s been treated unreasonably. He should know better.”