Maine Business and Consumer Court

Plaintiffs in MDOT downtown Wiscasset project court case ask court to reconsider

Posted:  Thursday, September 21, 2017 - 6:45pm

Wawenock LLC and other companies operated by the Ralph Doering family have asked the Maine Business and Consumer Court to reconsider one aspect of its decision against them and for Maine Department of Transportation in a summary judgment Sept. 11.

Regarding MDOT’s Wiscasset downtown project, the plaintiffs had alleged, among other things, MDOT had not followed a requirement that it seek public input as part of the Sensible Transportation Policy Act. The court had dismissed the allegation, stating the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue on those grounds because there was no legislative intent to allow individuals to sue to stop a transportation project and only a municipality could do so. In its request for reconsideration, the plaintiffs state the legislature had declined to enact the Act, so it went to a referendum vote, and the will of the people, not legislative intent, should matter in this case.

Before the referendum vote, then-Commissioner of MDOT Commissioner Dana Connors had said while MDOT values public participation, his reading of the act was that it required MDOT to “be responsive ... and that means a single person, or a single interest group who disagrees with a road project (notwithstanding its value to the overall good) would have a whole new legal basis for stopping or delaying projects.” The plaintiffs said in their motion that this was the referendum’s intent, citing the commissioner’s testimony as supporting evidence.

In an email to reporters Sept. 21, Town Manager Marian Anderson said reconsiderations are rarely granted “but not out of the realm of possibility.”

If the reconsideration bid fails, the plaintiffs can still appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. MDOT spokesman Ted Talbot said Friday that the department was reviewing the plaintiffs’ reconsideration request to the court. He had no additional comment at the time.