Supreme Court to hear Maine case

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a Maine case that pits 20 current and former state workers against the state and the Maine State Employees Association.

The case stems back to 2005, when lawmakers allowed the union to charge nonunion state workers a fee for being represented by the union in collective bargaining agreements. The workers who filed suit say the union is using the money to pay for litigation that is not related to their workplace.

The union has said that it spends those dues only on expenses allowed by law.

Land Trust Purchase

BAR HARBOR, Maine — A land trust that held a conservation easement on a local stable is the new owner of the Crooked Road property, now that it has been sold at a foreclosure auction.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which had lent the previous owner the money she needed to buy the 37-acre property, acquired it on Sept. 23 for $410,000.

Joanne Sullivan, former owner of Eochaidh (pronounced yawkee) Stables, defaulted on her mortgage on the property after she became involved in a custody battle with the state over her horses.

Citing concerns about the health of the animals, the state seized 18 horses from the farm in April 2007, about a month after a horse died of colic at the property. Sullivan successfully took the state to court to get back custody of the animals. A judge in Ellsworth District Court ruled last summer that the Maine Animal Welfare Program could keep five of the horses temporarily, but that the rest were healthy and should be returned to Sullivan immediately. The others were to be returned to Sullivan when they regained their health.

Horses not owned by Sullivan that were being boarded at the stables had been returned to their owners while another died in state custody. Eight of the horses were returned to Eochaidh Stables last October.

Large Fine for Filling Wetlands

The EPA released this press release about a recent fine for filling in wetlands.

Robert and Gayle Greenhill, owners of more than 3,200 acres of land on the western shore of Moosehead Lake, will pay an EPA fine of $115,000 for filling 1.5 acres of freshwater wetlands on their property between 2001 and 2005.The filling of wetlands without a permit, which occurred during the expansion of a private airstrip and the development of a rock quarry, is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act and other federal requirements designed to protect wetlands.

This is the second violation of wetlands protections in the federal Clean Water Act by the Greenhills. In 1997, the Greenhills constructed a trout pond on the property, altering approximately 0.4 of an acre without first seeking a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, as required by the federal Clean Water Act. The Greenhills also did not apply for the necessary permit for the more recent violation. The recent work included the clearing, grubbing, grading, and filling of several segments of forested evergreen and deciduous wetlands – totaling 1.5 acres – on the site.