ALFRED — A York County Superior Court justice has dismissed a civil complaint filed by a man who wanted the court to determine ownership of a vacant Sanford mill.

York County Superior Court Justice Paul Fritzsche denied Michael R. Hamlin’s request to waive court filing fees Nov. 4, and dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning that it can be brought again. Fritzsche wrote that there was no  indication that Hamlin, the plaintiff, had the legal standing to bring the complaint.

A filing by attorney Jeremy Fischer of Drummond Woodsum, representing the bank, had asked the case be dismissed with prejudice, which would have meant that it could not be brought again.

 Hamlin, who listed a Gardiner address in court documents, filed a civil complaint at York County Superior Court Oct. 27 asking the court to rule on the ownership of the property at 13 River St., known locally as the Stenton Trust.

Hamlin, who acted as his own legal representative in the filing,  indicated he believed the owner to be Savings Bank of Maine, formerly known as Gardiner Savings Bank. A Sept. 19  proposal included  with Hamlin’s  civil complaint offered to pay the bank $1 for the mill building and would assume all back taxes and other liens associated with the property in exchange for a quit claim deed.

Hamlin had asked the court to declare an owner.

 The City of Sanford lists the property owner as Gateway Properties, LLC,  a company owned by Jonathan Morse of Stratham, New Hampshire. Morse purchased the mill in 1999. For a time, there were tenants in the building but financial difficulties ensued and the building’s condition deteriorated. Eventually it became vacant.

Property taxes and interest have mounted to a total of nearly $125,000 since 2007, according to city treasurer Paula Simpson. The city has waived foreclosure for several years.

In 2009, Gardiner Savings Bank ordered an auction and in November that year, a Massachusetts development company was the successful bidder at $210,000. The hefty cost ”“ about $1.5 million ”“ to rid the structure of environmental hazards and the condition of portions of the old mill saw them later abandon their plans and the sale never transpired. Mark Green, who was town manager at the time,  said  he had been told by bank officials that Morse had abandoned the property. As well, he said at the time, it was his understanding that the bank had not foreclosed on the property.

City officials have been keeping their eyes and ears open since Hamlin stopped at City Hall in October and talked to Simpson about property taxes owed on the structure, and told other city officials he planned to acquire the mill, demolish it and salvage the materials.

A man by the same name was involved with the Libbey Mill in Lewiston in the 1990s. According to newspaper accounts at the time, the property and its ownership was in dispute for a lengthy period.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324”“4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282”“1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]



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