The attorney for a group that wants to preserve public access to a popular sand beach in Harpswell has filed a motion asking Maine Supreme Judicial Court to reconsider its decision that restored the property owner’s right to block access.

David Bertoni, a Lewiston-based attorney, filed the motion for reconsideration Tuesday on behalf of a nonprofit organization called Cedar Beach/Cedar Island Supporters Inc.

Bertoni said he recognizes the legal challenge of asking the justices to admit they made an error when they unanimously vacated a lower-court judgment that the public had established the right to use a private road to access Cedar Beach.

The Supreme Court ruled on the beach access issue last month, but a few days later, the attorney for Betsy Atkins, the road’s owner, contacted Harpswell officials to let them know that Atkins won’t close the road.

Atkins told Harpswell’s town administrator, Kristi Eiane, that she would review her decision to keep the road open to pedestrians annually.

Cedar Beach was used by the public for decades until 2011, when the access road was barricaded by the couple who owned it at the time, Charles and Sally Abrahamson. Cedar Beach/Cedar Island Supporters Inc. sued to have access restored, and won their case in a ruling in 2014 by Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills.


Atkins’ attorney, Chris Chandler, confirmed Tuesday that Atkins will allow the public to keep walking down the dirt road, unless people abuse the right. The public access road is for pedestrians only. Chandler said Atkins went to court to maintain control over the road.

“It is pretty rare for the court to grant a reconsideration,” Chandler said.

The Supreme Court has no obligation to review the decision and could choose not to act.

Bertoni said his clients decided to pursue the matter because if the ruling stands, Atkins could change her mind and revoke public access in the future.

“Leaving the public access issue to the goodwill of one person is a huge unknown and creates too much uncertainty for the people who use Cedar Beach,” Bertoni said.


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