Developers with a contract to buy 104 acres of the Payson estate on Foreside Road in Cumberland can move forward as they planned with the controversial land purchase, a judge decided Monday.

The developers, Bateman Partners and Peter Anastos, have agreed to sell 25 acres to the town so it can establish the first publicly accessible beach in Cumberland. A $3 million bond referendum is on the Nov. 4 ballot to finance the deal.

Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren found that the developers did pay a $15,000 fee to extend a purchase-and-sale agreement to Nov. 7. Payson heirs had claimed that the developers didn’t pay the fee and had moved to force a closing of the land sale on Oct. 30.

“There’s no dispute,” Warren said at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland. “Appropriate payment was made.”

Warren said ambiguous contract language didn’t specify how the developers’ $15,000 check should have been handled by Legacy Properties, whose agents represent both the sellers and the buyers.

Warren also said there was no evidence that allowing the 104-acre sale to go forward would compromise a conservation easement on the estate.

And he said that his decision in no way constituted an opinion on the town’s upcoming referendum or ongoing debate over public beach access.

The town’s plan to buy part of the Payson estate has divided residents, with the bulk of opposition coming from the abutting Wildwood neighborhood.

The referendum proposal includes nine acres near Foreside Road, a half-mile road and right of way to the waterfront, and 14 acres of shorefront and tidal property that features a nearly half-mile-long beach and a 220-foot-long pier.

If voters approve the referendum, the developers have agreed to allow a 1.5-mile public hiking trail to be built around the entire 104-acre estate.

The estate was on the market for $6.5 million. The developers are seeking site plan approval for a 10-lot subdivision on the property. The project is scheduled to go before the Planning Board on Nov. 18.

David Sherman, attorney for the developers, said they likely will pay $15,000 for a second 30-day extension allowed under the purchase-and-sale agreement.


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