April 08, 2020
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Tenants’ lawyers seek deal to avoid suit over hazardous conditions at Maine mobile home park

Beth Brogan | BDN
Beth Brogan | BDN
A tree fell on this mobile home on Franklin Parkway.

Eighteen months after residents of Bay Bridge Estates mobile home park in Brunswick lost power for multiple days — and later experienced a water shortage — attorneys representing some of the residents are negotiating a settlement with the park’s owners that could reimburse residents for property damages, provide a rent discount and commit the owners to addressing infrastructure to avoid similar problems in the future.

In a May 20 memo to residents, Kennebunk attorneys James Clifford and Peter Clifford wrote that, in their capacity representing a number of Bay Bridge residents in a potential class action lawsuit against Bay Bridge Estates, they met with the park’s management and its attorney on May 6, 2019, to discuss a potential settlement.

In an email Monday, James Clifford told the Bangor Daily News that no lawsuit had been filed, but that negotiations with Tom McKeon of Portland law firm Richardson Whitman, who represents the owners of Bay Bridge Estates, have begun.

Citing confidentiality, Clifford declined to comment further, but according to the memo, the potential settlement would include reimbursement for property damage and out-of-pocket costs directly related to a late October 2017 power outage and a water shortage in late December 2017; a “modest” rent abatement; and an agreement from Bay Bridge management to address and fix problems relating to dangerous trees and limbs and proper well-water management, including a generator at the pump house.

The memo urges any resident who believes they suffered out-of-pocket losses to contact the Cliffords immediately to provide receipts, photographs and other proof of loss.

Early in January 2018, during a prolonged cold spell, residents of Bay Bridge informed Brunswick officials that they had no water. Town Attorney Stephen Langsdorf and municipal administrators declared the lack of safe drinking water a “public health issue” and ordered Bay Bridge to correct the situation.

When town officials deemed that response inadequate, Town Manager John Eldridge ordered water to be trucked to the mobile home park at Bay Bridge’s expense.

In mid-January, residents also began complaining of sewage backing up into bathtubs and varying water pressure — including periods of no water.

While residents were told the park would dig a new well, the town said that Bay Bridge denied an inadequate water supply, and said an unusually long cold spell caused complaints about the supply. They claimed tenants left water running to prevent frozen pipes, resulting in a low supply, which prompted management to reduce the overall flow to prevent damage to the system.

At the time, Rodney Doray of the tenants association said some residents spent as much as $2,500 repairing the main water line into their homes.

In January 2018, residents of the mobile home park formed a tenants association and retained Clifford, who said he would begin fact-finding about potential legal action against the park’s owners.

Two months later, falling trees created precarious situations in the park, with one tree falling directly onto a single-wide mobile home on Franklin Parkway, displacing the elderly woman who lived there.

The attorneys hope to meet with all residents of the mobile home park during the last two weeks of June.

Kevin McCarthy, chief operating officer of The Liberty Group, which owns the park, did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday afternoon.

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