Steve Catlin marks his wooded backyard property line with bright yellow signs. This line will now be challenged in court after Big Duck Cove, a company looking to develop housing in a neighboring lot, filed a lawsuit against Catlin in April. Kristian Moravec / The Times Record

A developer working to build housing on Pleasant Hill Road in Brunswick has sued Maquoit Road resident Steve Catlin over property rights and allegations that Catlin defamed the company.

The lawsuit marks an escalation of a long-running dispute between Big Duck Cove LLC and Catlin over ownership of a stretch of land in the back portion of their abutting properties. Tensions over the land, which runs along an unofficial hiking and ATV trail, boiled over after Big Duck Cove said it attempted to resolve the issue by offering to deed the land back to him. Catlin said his property lines have been referenced by his family for generations and that the developer’s plans encroached on his land.

There’s some question as to whether the land is owned by anyone, in which case the company can’t grant Catlin a deed if it doesn’t own the land, Catlin argued.

The suit aims to clarify the boundaries between the properties. It also accuses Catlin of defaming the company over comments he made at public meetings and online, according to documents obtained by The Times Record. The documents don’t specify what those comments were.

Attorney Jonathan M. Davis, who represents Big Duck Cove, said that if Catlin continues to challenge the company over the land, the Brunswick Planning Board is less likely to approve the development planned for the lot.

“We’re trying to run the project within the boundaries described in [both Catlin’s and Big Duck Cove’s] deeds,” said Davis, adding that the suit was filed to make these distinctions clearer.


Davis said Big Duck Cove aims to build more affordably priced homes — though not necessarily low-income housing — in the rural neighborhood. The Planning Board held a public hearing regarding the development in late February. Brunswick residents, including Catlin, pushed back against the plan during the meeting.

The escalation comes just as Catlin said a surveyor he hired was set to look at the property lines this week.

“If I don’t, I’ll always wonder,” Catlin said, referring to the choice to challenge the developer in the first place. Though Catlin said he does not wish to use his retirement funds — money the former captain hoped to spend on a boat and traveling — he said he’s obligated to protect land that he said has been in his family since 1945. “I kind of feel like it’s my heritage and duty to defend [my property].”

Catlin’s neighbors had already sent over $2,000 in funds to his GoFundMe, “Skeet’s Place Defense Fund,” in anticipation of a legal battle, according to the fundraiser page. So far, Catlin has spent $4,000 of his personal money in attorney fees and on surveying services. He’s represented by Paul Brunetti, who practices in Lisbon Falls.

Despite being willing to battle it out in court, Catlin said the situation is “messy” and that he would much rather put it behind him.

“If [Big Duck Cove] gets what he wants, I’m going to sell,” Catlin said. “I’m getting out of here.”

Attorneys for both sides said determining the correct property lines would likely be a lengthy process, though Big Duck Cove hopes to settle things without a lengthy trial process, according to Davis.

An initial court date is pending until Catlin files his response to the suit.

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