The Lumbery in Cape Elizabeth courtesy photo / Mike Friedland

CAPE ELIZABETH – In a Cape Elizabeth Town Council session, councilor Tim Reiniger made the motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the Lumbery and councilor Gillis seconded it. The vote, on Nov. 13, was a unanimous 7-0 to drop the legal action.

The decision was met with a sense of relief by Mike Friedland, part-owner of the Lumbery, which is a store that sells items such as lumber and tools. “I am absolutely relieved that the Cape Elizabeth Town Council voted to dismiss the lawsuit,” Friedland said. “And I am especially thankful to councilor Tim Reiniger who repeatedly pressed the issue.”

Friedland said he was relieved, “but at the same time, I am shocked by the absolute lack of introspection on the part of the town. I have mixed feelings about the outcome of last Monday’s town council meeting. I am not at all happy that the hastily written, inaccurate lawsuit with fines that could exceed $4.5 million which was filed against myself personally, for some odd reason, as well as the Lumbery, is still in place and being utilized as a coercive tool in a negotiation that is less about broken rules and more about rules that are broken.”

Friedland said he has been very straightforward in telling them that their rules, procedures, and processes are harmful to my business and present zero benefit to the town. “I also informed them that the conditions placed upon my property run contradictory to the town center master plan as well as the town comprehensive plan,” Friedland said. “Time and again the town staff chose to discount my words and ignore my pleas for help and ultimately decided to sue us instead of working with us to come up with a practical solution. This whole ordeal which has lasted over 13 months has drained me emotionally, mentally and financially.”

However, he expressed hope in the appointment of an independent mediator to resolve the dispute and investigate what led to the lawsuit. “And I am hopeful that positive change is coming, not just for the Lumbery but for many folks who have been frustrated by a culture where precedence is king and common sense need not apply,” Friedland said.

“I am pleased that the town council has unanimously voted to withdraw the lawsuit against the Lumbery and Michael Friedland,” Reiniger said.

Reiniger said he believes this is an appropriate response to the community support Mr. Friedland received as exhibited by the extensive public testimony. “My hope is that this will result in a renewed town focus on promoting small business development in Cape Elizabeth as an essential tool in alleviating the homeowner property tax burden, which currently stands at 98 percent of all taxes collected,” Reiniger said.

“I’ve been shouting that I need help, and it wasn’t until we got a 1,400-person petition, that we filled this room. In my experience with this town, my experience has not mattered at all. It’s like I was speaking into the wind,” Friedland said. Friedland said he was at the meeting to make suggestions. “I suggest you drop the lawsuit because I think that would be great for the town. I suggest I get reimbursed for legal fees because it should not have come to this. I suggest there be an internal review to figure out what went wrong, who was responsible, and how can we avoid this in the future.”

The Cape Elizabeth Town Council’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice leaves room for potential legal action in the future, depending on the outcome of ongoing amendments to the Outdoor Storage Ordinance.

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