NORTH HAVEN — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court will hear the appeal Wednesday of a a seasonal island resident who is challenging the expansion of an inn owned by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.

Steven Wolfram, a neighbor of Nebo Lodge, has fought the construction of the two-story, 40-by-26-foot building since before it was completed in spring 2014. The building was built to include storage space, an office and lodging for two employees.

Wolfram is a U.S. citizen who lives in France but summers at his home next to the lodge, which he purchased in 2009.

Wolfram contends construction of the building, which replaced a deteriorated bungalow, violated town ordinances because the lodge was a nonconforming use. The construction exceeded the area allowed for an expansion and exceeded the amount of development allowed on a lot, he claimed.

In April 2016, Justice Daniel Billings rejected Wolfram’s appeal, in which he argued that the project should have been sent back to the town’s Board of Appeals and that the board chair should have been disqualified from participating because he made statements that Wolfram said showed a clear bias against him.

The judge disagreed in his April 2016 ruling. Wolfram then appealed to the state high court.


In his appeal, Wolfram maintains that the building expansion was beyond what the town ordinance allows. He also contends that his due process rights were violated because of conversations that Hannah Pingree, Pingree’s daughter and Nebo Lodge’s manager, with the town outside of meetings.

Wolfram’s appeal claims that the chair of the Board of Appeals called his opposition to the permit application “un-American,” an indication of clear bias.

Billings had rejected that claim in his ruling last year.

“Based on the record before the court, the court is unable to conclude that the (Board of Appeals) Chair was biased or that any such bias impacted the Plaintiff’s due process rights,” Billings concluded.

The expansion was originally approved by the town planning board in December 2013 and the Board of Appeals upheld the approval in March 2014.

Attorney Paul Gibbons, who represented North Haven, said last year there was no evidence that Wolfram’s accusation that the appeals board chair made comments that Wolfram’s actions were objectionable and un-American. Gibbons pointed out that Wolfram was listening to the meeting by telephone from France.

The judge said that if there was a record of an appeals board member making such a comment, it would have been a proper basis to vacate the board’s decision. However, he said, the record was not clear.

“The only evidence of the statements alleged to have been made by the BOA Chair is an unsworn statement of Mr. Wolfram submitted to the BOA,” Billings said.

Wolfram’s attorney Matthew Manahan did not respond to an email Thursday night. Gibbons did not immediately respond to a call Friday morning.

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