Nordic neighbors take legal action at local, state levels

By Stephanie Grinnell | Jul 17, 2019
Photo by: Stephanie Grinnell The intertidal zone on May 20, 2019. Its ownership is disputed.

Belfast — Neighbors of a proposed land-based salmon farm have thrown up another roadblock for Nordic Aquafarms in the form of a lawsuit.

Jeffrey Mabee and Judith Grace, owners of 290 Northport Ave., on Monday filed a complaint against Nordic, Janet Eckrote, Richard Eckrote and the unknown “heirs” of Genevieve Hargrove and/or Harriet “A.” Hartley and/or Harriet “L.” Hartley. The court action seeks to prevent any of the defendants from claiming rights to, using or giving access to intertidal property of which Mabee and Grace claim ownership.

In a previous interview, Mabee and Grace said they had no idea they might own additional intertidal lands after purchasing the property decades ago. The couple have known for years they own intertidal lands in front of the neighboring Theye property but said they did not realize their claim extended to the Eckrotes' property until approached by Upstream Watch, a group opposed to the Nordic development.

In response to Mabee and Grace recording a conservation easement — held by Upstream Watch — on the intertidal land, Nordic filed several redacted release deeds from the reported heirs of former property owners to back up its claim to title, right and interest.

At risk under the lawsuit for Nordic is an easement agreement with the Eckrotes that will allow the company to bury intake and discharge pipes from Route 1, across the Eckrote lot, through the intertidal area and into the bay. Mabee and Grace have stated they will refuse to allow the commercial use of the intertidal lands, which they say are protected for residential purposes by a 1946 deed covenant.

Attorneys Kim Ervin Tucker and Dana Strout, on behalf of the plaintiffs, note that Nordic was made aware of the intertidal ownership issue as early as April 2, 2018, from Good Deeds surveys from 2012 and 2018.

The suit asserts the continued ownership and easement claims “permanently damage Penobscot Bay and the value of merchantability of Plaintiff’s waterfront home and land.” It also claims the defendants have “manufactured” documents “to create a claim of ‘color of title’ sufficient to seek and obtain permits from local, state and federal regulators …. ”

Concurrently, at the state level, Mabee and Grace have filed a petition to dismiss and for intervenor status with the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, which will determine the outcome of several state permits for which Nordic has applied. Those two documents make claims identical to those in the lawsuit as it relates to Nordic’s title, right and interest in the Eckrote property.

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