Jason Litalien Courtesy Photo

PORTLAND — Another civil complaint about Biddeford parking has been dismissed by a judge, this time at the request of the plaintiff, Jason Litalien.

Litalien had filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court of Maine in May, alleging that his civil rights and those of 6,760 others who had voted against parking meters downtown in 2014 had been violated. Litalien had claimed installation of parking kiosks in municipal lots infringed on his first and 14th amendment rights.

He had argued that the decision by Biddeford to implement paid parking in lots was against the 2014 referendum that had asked residents, “Shall the City of Biddeford install parking meters in the greater downtown Biddeford area?”

On Sept. 18, he asked a judge to dismiss the complaint, citing the Biddeford City Council’s decision the previous day to enter into a Joint Development Agreement on parking with two private firms.

Under the terms of the agreement, the developers will build a parking garage at 3 Lincoln St., city-owned property in the mill district, adjacent to the downtown, and the former site of a waste incinerator.

Litalien’s request was granted on Sept. 26, without prejudice, which means it could be brought again.

The law school graduate acted as his own attorney in the case. On Monday, he answered “no” when asked if he envisions refiling the suit in the near future. There is no constitutional challenge once the municipal lots and garage project are transferred to a developer, he said.

Prior to the federal suit, in October 2018 Litalien had filed a suit in state court in an attempt to halt a parking plan that included paid parking in municipal lots. That suit was dismissed in May when a judge said any lawsuit should have been filed within 30 days of the city’s decision to institute the measure.

In a May 22 story in the Journal Tribune, Portland Press Herald writer Gillian Graham wrote that Biddeford officials had said a new parking plan that took effect in November 2018 is consistent with the results of a 2014 referendum to ban parking meters on downtown streets.

On-street parking remains free. People who want to park in the municipal lots can either buy a monthly pass or pay hourly at a kiosk.

The parking garage, paid parking in municipal lots and other parking changes in the downtown and mill district are part of a strategy to spur redevelopment in  those areas and stabilize the property tax rate, according to city officials.

Litalien challenged Mayor Alan Casavant in the Nov. 5 election, losing to the longtime mayor by a narrow margin of 107 votes in the contest.

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