WISCASSET, Maine — An agreement between the Maine Department of Transportation and the town of Wiscasset will delay the demolition of Haggett’s Garage until at least February.
The MDOT plans to demolish the building at 36 Water St. to clear the way for a new parking lot, part of a $5 million downtown traffic improvement project.
The agreement follows the town’s filing of a complaint against the MDOT in Lincoln County Superior Court on Wednesday.
“In the face of growing concern about the downtown viability without on-street parking and the uncertainty of (the MDOT’s) willingness to honor the town’s ordinance process, the town of Wiscasset filed a complaint today in Lincoln County Superior Court,” Wiscasset Town Manager Marian Anderson said in an email to local reporters Wednesday. “The town looks forward to seeing the process through and is hopeful that (the MDOT) will comply with the town’s requests. We look forward to continuing to work positively with (the MDOT) to resolve the issues.”
Peter L. Murray and John B. Shumadine, of the Portland law firm Murray, Plumb & Murray, are representing the town in the matter.
Along with the complaint, the town’s attorneys filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to block the demolition of Haggett’s Garage.
The town and the MDOT reached an agreement outlined in a court order by Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy on Thursday.
The order blocks the demolition of Haggett’s Garage and any “actual project construction” absent another court order or a written agreement between the parties.
The MDOT can continue “design and other activities” in connection with the project and can request bids for construction. The department can also “secure the building” with signs and “temporary barriers.”
A evidentiary hearing on the town’s request for a preliminary injunction will take place at 9 a.m. Feb. 2.
The town’s lawsuit ultimately seeks a court order to block the project until the MDOT complies with all state and local laws and regulations, obtains a certificate of appropriateness from the Wiscasset Historic Preservation Commission, and obtains a municipal-state project agreement from the town “or at least makes a good faith effort to obtain such agreement” before it begins construction.
Haggett’s Garage “is a two-story brick building built in 1916 as the first Ford automobile dealership in coastal Maine,” according to the town’s complaint. In recent years, the building has provided office space for Coastal Enterprises Inc. and, most recently, Midcoast Conservancy.