On the Road Again

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court (“Law Court”) recently upheld a decision in favor of one of the law firm’s many local government clients, the Town of Owls Head, in a highly contested road dispute, Edwards v. Blackman, et al. The plaintiffs had sued the Town to prevent both the long-time neighboring property owners and the Town from accessing the road, known locally as Cooper’s Beach Road, which runs along Rockland Harbor and provides access to a local sandy beach. After a six-day bench trial, the Superior Court confirmed the Town’s position that the road in question is a so-called “public easement” road, meaning that the Town has the right, but not the obligation, to provide summer and winter maintenance and that the members of the public have the right to travel on it both by foot and by motor vehicle. On appeal, the Law Court agreed, and further held that any procedural challenges to town road or public easement acceptances are time-barred unless raised within 30 days of municipal action. Jensen Baird attorneys Bill Dale and Mark Bower represented the Town both at trial and on appeal.