traffic study under review by town attorneys to ensure it meets court order requirements

Rockport hotel builder hopes to be back at work in another week; opponents warn of appeals, court action

Thu, 03/03/2022 - 2:45pm

    ROCKPORT — On March 2, Knox County Justice Bruce Mallonee issued his order on the various post-judgment motions entered by attorneys advocating for or against the construction of a new hotel in Rockport Village.

    In his order, Justice Mallonee acknowledged the receipt of the series of motions that had been filed since his Jan. 3 decision, “seeking to clarify or change certain elements within it.”

    But he held firm to his order and said March 2: “The parties have not persuaded the court that any element of its judgment and orders was in error.”

    Therefore, he denied them.

    See attached PDF for complete order

    The parties represent three separate interests: the Town of Rockport, 20 Central LLC and individual Rockport residents, as well as the group Friends of Rockport. The case, which is a combination of two separate yet overlapping court complaints, had been initiated by the Friends of Rockport, John Priestley, Claire Tully David Barry, David Kantor, Mark Schwarzmann and Winston Whitney against the Town of Rockport, with 20 Central Street LLC as a Party-in-Interest.

    Stuart Smith, a principal in 20 Central LLC, the business entity that has put construction on hold at the Rockport Village hotel while waiting for a new building permit from the Town of Rockport, said March 3 that he hoped a crew would be back at work in another week.

    He said 20 Central LLC has submitted a revised floor plan for 20 hotel rooms instead of 26, “per the court ruling and expect to have a reissued permit once [the] traffic study [is] reviewed.”

    Orion Thomas, Rockport’s planner, said March 3: “We are meeting with the town attorneys to ensure the next steps are handled correctly, and that we completely understand the March 2 order by Justice Mallonee.”

    At the end of January, the Rockport Planning Board had followed two of the judge’s directives and deliberated again on the issues of whether the hotel’s design satisfied municipal architectural standards and met traffic requirement. The board ultimately found in favor of the hotel on both counts.

    As per the Jan. 3 order, the town did commission a traffic study, which has been paid for by Stuart Smith, said Thomas.

    The town hired Gorrill Palmer, an engineering company with South Portland offices.

    “The traffic study is being reviewed by the town attorneys to ensure it meets the court order requirements before the Code Enforcement Officer reviews it and makes any determination,” said Thomas, March 3.

    Attorney Kristin Collins, representing Rockport residents who took legal action against the town, said March 3: “This decision is not surprising but unfortunately does mean that the parties will need to proceed to the appeal stage on all issues.  We will proceed first to the Board of Appeals on the Planning Board’s remanded decision, and then on through court until all issues are finally resolved.”

    Justice Mallonee’s latest order comes after two years of legal battles concerning the Rockport Harbor Hotel, its design, its effect on Village parking, and how the municipality handled the site plan review and initial building permit application. It has been a complicated case that at one point raised issues of constitutional law.

    Various parties involved had indicated late last year that if their interests were not met, they would elevate their concerns to Maine’s highest court, the Maine Supreme Court.

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657