Portland reclaims lot using eminent domain 

The Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to seize by eminent domain a parcel in Bayside that was part of the now-defunct “midtown” project. Councilors noted that the city had received a loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to build a public parking garage on Lot 6, 59 Somerset St.

Source: Portland Press Herald

New Maine law supports tiny houses

On Wednesday, Gov. Janet Mills signed a new law that gives tiny houses the same status as any other single-family dwelling in the state. This puts tiny homes on equal footing with traditional residences and subject to the same zoning and code requirements. Under this new law, tiny homes can have no larger than 400-square-feet of living space and ones on wheels count as dwellings as well.

Source: BDN

Maine’s high court upholds town ownership of beach in Kennebunkport


Maine’s highest court has ruled that the town of Kennebunkport owns Goose Rocks Beach, possibly ending a decade-old legal battle over ownership and control of the 2-mile stretch of oceanfront.

The 42-page ruling traces control of the beach back to the colonial period and dismisses arguments made by nearly two dozen beachfront property owners that ownership of the beach had effectively reverted to neighbors rather than to the public.

“Therefore, on the record before us, and in the absence of any evidence suggesting that the disputed land was conveyed into private ownership, we affirm the holding of the trial court that in the unique circumstances of this case, legal title to the disputed land seaward of the seawall, including the beach, is held by the Town of Kennebunkport for the benefit of the public,” the ruling says.

Source:  Portland Press Herald

Cellphone Data Warrant Approved by Maine Supreme Court

Maine’s Supreme Court disagrees with a judge who suppressed cellphone data obtained from a warrant.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday set aside the judge’s decision. The judge had said search warrants weren’t supported by probable cause.

Chief Justice Leigh Saufley wrote in a unanimous decision that the search warrant request by detectives investigating burglaries involving multiple convicted criminals was legal.

But she was careful to note that the ruling was limited in scope to the burglary investigation and limited cellphone data. She said the court was not addressing whether judges should assume cellphone evidence exists in all cases involving multiple defendants.

Source: Maine Public

Errors cited in challenge to new CMP line approval

In an appeal of that approval to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, NextEra Energy Resources accused the commission of ignoring state law requiring a third-party review of alternatives to Central Maine Power’s transmission line. NextEra also said the panel failed to follow the law in determining a public need for the $1 billion project.

Source: Portland Press Herald

State admits it was wrong to resist federal crackdown on oil tank pollution

Maine was wrong to fight a federal crackdown on hazardous emissions from petroleum storage tanks in South Portland and Searsport, a state official now admits, but there is still no consensus on how to safeguard the public from air pollution produced by oil facilities across the United States.

For much of the last decade, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection sided with oil companies and defended a widely disputed method of estimating air pollution from storage tanks that was developed by the petroleum industry, according to documents obtained by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram under a Freedom of Access Act request.

Source: Portland Press Herald

Bucksport approves tax break for proposed salmon farm

The Town Council voted 7-0 on Thursday night to approve a tax break for a company that proposes to bring one of the state’s first land-based Atlantic salmon farms to the site of the former Verso Paper mill. Whole Oceans CEO Jason Mitchell told the council during its meeting that with the tax-increment financing deal approved, the company will apply to the town next month for a permit to build the aquafarm, with construction slated to begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

Source: BDN Maine

Police and motorists prepare for ban on handling phones while driving

Maine drivers accustomed to taking a call on the road or checking social media at a red light could be in for a rude awakening and a pricey ticket when a ban on holding a cellphone behind the wheel goes into effect this fall. As of Sept. 19, anyone caught holding a cellphone or electronic device while driving can be pulled over and fined at least $50 and up to $250 for repeat offenses.

Source:  Portland Press Herald

Maine island starts composting program to save on shipping trash

Officials on Vinalhaven say that a communitywide composting program will not only help deliver nutrients to the island’s poor soil, but it will actually save the town money by reducing the amount of solid waste shipped off the island.

The town was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in June to turn a small composting project started last fall into an islandwide composting service located at the town’s transfer station.

Source: BDN Maine

Mills Vetoes Bill To Limit CMP’s Ability To Seize Private Land 

A bill that would limit Central Maine Power’s ability to seize land for its proposed 145-mile transmission project has failed following a veto by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

The House voted 79-64 to override the governor’s veto, well short of the two-thirds support needed to keep the bill alive.

The proposal would have changed state law that allows utilities to seize private land and bypass municipal governments for infrastructure projects.

Source: Maine Public