SOURCE: The Friends of Great Diamond Island

May 03, 2011 11:12 ET

Court Decision Halts City of Portland, ME-Backed Diamond Cove Inn Project

Preservation-Oriented Islanders Successfully Stop Hotelminium on Great Diamond Island

PORTLAND, ME--(Marketwire - May 3, 2011) - The Friends of Great Diamond Island (The Friends) has successfully won its suit against the Diamond Cove Homeowners Association (DCHA) and The Inn At Diamond Cove, LLC to invalidate the controversial vote for a commercial hotel in the Great Diamond Island Fort McKinley Historic District. In a decision handed down by the Superior Court of the State of Maine in Portland, the Court determined "that the Amendment was not properly approved at the Association's June 30, 2007, vote on the Amendment."

The Court agreed with The Friends' contention of highly irregular voting procedures associated with the vote by homeowners to approve the Inn. "The Court cannot view these [voting] deficiencies to be technical shortcomings as the Association argues. Indeed, if the Court were to consider the many problems with the vote (e.g., the discrepancy between the number of votes and the number of proxies, two votes counted for one unit, the acceptance of votes that were submitted in a form that is in direct contravention of the requirements of the by-laws, the failure of some of the individuals to whom proxies were granted to appear at the meeting to cast the vote) to be technical and without consequence, the Court would in essence have to conclude that the voting process is irrelevant, that the Association can disregard the requirements of the by-laws when it so desires, and that any vote endorsed by the Association's management is beyond reproach."

"This is clearly a victory for anyone who cherishes the island way of life," says Bill Robitzek, a member of The Friends. "The lawsuit revealed project details that show clear inconsistency between the proposal presented to island residents, and the actual project intended. Should the DCHA Board of Directors pursue a re-vote on this matter, the City and the public will need to be provided with current accurate information about what is really intended to be built on the island."

Now that the Amendment had been voided, the Amendment clause forgiving the City of Portland of any financial liability for past Association assessment dues has also been voided. In the Court proceedings, the City argued vehemently its position of ownership over the buildings in question to justify its voting in the Amendment process, filing claims of ownership in an Affidavit with the Court. Past assessments for the property in question now total nearly $1,000,000.

"Forgiveness of Portland back-assessments was an easier sell to DCHA voters in 2007, when the City was denying both ownership of the buildings and membership in the Association," says Tom Lucke, a resident at Diamond Cove. "Since the City Manager has subsequently voted openly on behalf of the City in several DCHA ballots -- including the one for this project -- and since the Court upheld City ownership of the buildings, forgiveness of nearly a million dollars in back assessments will be a harder sell by the DCHA Board to other dues-paying members. If they want to vote like the rest of us, they should pay their dues."

Lucke notes that all other homeowners have to pay monthly DCHA assessments regardless of whether any home has been built or construction promised and homeowners (including the City) are personally liable for the assessments. "With current back-assessments owed by the City closing on the $1 million mark, this far exceeds any proposed financial benefits from the Inn for decades," says Lucke. "I certainly would not vote to forgive $1 million in exchange for the right to build an Inn that may or may not make money, and certainly will harm the island and residents by increasing the infrastructure and environmental burden on the island... who would?"

"This victory confirms that the complaints of the homeowners were valid and that the handling of the vote was seriously flawed," says Timothy Norton, the Attorney for The Friends. Norton noted that the decision now opens the door for working with the Association to determine more appropriate and environmentally compatible uses for the redevelopment of these properties consistent with the character of the island.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:
    Bill Robitzek
    (Cottage Community Resident)
    Email Contact
    + cell

    Tim Norton
    (Attorney for Friends)
    Email Contact
    +1 207.775.1020

    Tom Lucke
    (Diamond Cove Resident)
    Email Contact