BRIDGTON — The battle over a proposed hotel in downtown Bridgton continues following two recent orders from the Cumberland County Superior Court.

Justice Thomas R. McKeon in June ruled in favor of the Planning Board and the hotel developer’s proposal, reversing the town’s Board of Appeal decision. McKeon found that Save Kennard Street’s grounds for appeal were not substantiated. However, on Aug. 4, in response to the resident group’s motion to alter or amend the judgment, McKeon reversed his order on one issue, the matter of “fill.”

He said the Planning Board determined that the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, which the project must abide by, “unambiguously bars filling,” which is one of the issues raised in the citizens’ group’s appeal.

McKeon said that it is up to the Planning Board, not the court, to determine if the developer’s plan includes filling, which the Planning Board did not mention in its review of the proposal. Once the Planning Board has made a determination, it must amend its approval to ban the use of filling.

The project now goes back to the Planning Board to make these determinations and review the proposal again.

The attorney for Kennard Street, David Lourie, said this week that he cannot imagine how aspects of the project can be completed without fill being brought in.

“No matter how biased (the Planning Board is, it … ) cannot find that this is earth movement and not fill,” Lourie said last week, adding that fill is “clearly prohibited” in the Shoreland Protection Zone.

Justin McIver of Maine Eco Homes, who first introduced his proposal for the hotel to the Planning Board in February 2018, could not be reached for comment.

The site of the 66-room hotel and swimming pool is the Saunders Mill land and two adjacent parcels on Bacon and Kennard streets, and Save Kennard Street says the hotel will negatively impact the surrounding area.

The Planning Board unanimously approved the hotel last June and Save Kennard Street filed an appeal a month later.

The Appeals Board voted to reverse the Planning Board’s decision on Nov. 6; McIver’s attorney, Mark Bower of the Portland law firm Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry, filed an appeal in Superior Court on Dec. 20.

“The Planning Board spent about 18 months with this application. They came up with a thorough and well-thought-out decision. We believe the court will agree that was the right decision,” Bower said in January.

Now the matter must go back before the Board of Appeals as a procedural step before it can go back before the Planning Board for additional review, according to the town’s attorney, Aga Dixon of the Portland law firm Drummond Woodsum.

“I applaud the judge for seeing that he could fix this by sending it back to the Planning Board,” Lourie said. “I’ve been frustrated for a long time about this case but I think the light is at the end of the tunnel.”

Dixon said Tuesday that the best-case scenario is the Board of Appeals will be able to convene next month and that it will reach the Planning Board by October.

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