The Woodlands Homeowners Association filed a lawsuit Monday in Cumberland County Superior Court against the town of Falmouth to block construction on a new sewer line through the neighborhood, but the Town Council chairperson says the town is prepared to fight back.

If the judge rules in favor of the homeowners, the town will pursue completing the project by exercising eminent domain, which would allow the private property to be used for public purposes, Town Council Chairperson Amy Kuhn said Tuesday.

The homeowners  also filed a request for a temporary restraining to prevent the town from doing any construction on the new sewer line until the lawsuit is resolved, according to their attorney Jonathan Brogan said.

“The legal basis (of the lawsuit) remains the town’s attempt to inappropriately use the earlier easement to build a new, separate sewer through private property without permission,” Brogan said Tuesday.

The two sides disagree on the scope of the town’s sewer easement in the neighborhood. The homeowners contend it covers only the town’s being able to repair and maintain the existing sewer line.

“The town has taken this easement as meaning they can do whatever they want in The Woodlands, which is a private neighborhood. We believe the court will agree with us that this easement is a lot more restrictive than the town believes it is,”  Brogan said in an interview with the Northern Forecaster earlier this month.

The town says the easement allows for the West Falmouth improvement project, which was scheduled to begin this month.

“We believe that the town has the right to do this work and there is urgency in moving forward with this project. Falmouth has already delayed the project by more than two years at significant cost, making extensive efforts to address the Woodlands homeowners’ concerns and adjusting the design to minimize disruption,” Kuhn said Tuesday in a written statement to the Forecaster.

In the lawsuit, the homeowners says it would be less expensive for the town to build the new line along at the CMP corridor site of an existing line it has rights to.  But the town, the suit says, has “inflated costs associated with improvements it would not in truth need to make” along that route.

Kuhn said all alternative routes “have been extensively evaluated and under any scenario would cost sewer users more money.  The town cannot choose a more expensive route when it has the legal right to use its existing easement through the Woodlands.”

“If the court reads the easement differently, the town will look to eminent domain. Either way, the planned route will be more cost effective than constructing a new line elsewhere and therefore the only responsible option for Falmouth sewer users who are funding this work, including residents of the Woodlands.”

Town Manager Nathan Poore and Woodlands Homeowner’s Association Treasurer Jim Solley did not respond to requests for comment.

The sewer project that would run through the The Woodlands was proposed by the town three years ago. The Town Council voted unanimously last month to authorize the use of bonds to fund the $6.6 million project. Before the lawsuit was filed, construction was slated to begin in early November.

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