Charles Sidman Supports His Desire To Be Part of Cruise Ship Law Suit’s Defense
APPLL vs Town of Bar Harbor
BANGOR AND BAR HARBOR— Charles Sidman, the lead petitioner in the cruise ship disembarkation petition that passed this November and limited daily cruise ship caps has filed a brief in support of his involvement in the United States District Court case, Association to Preserve & Protect Local Livelihoods et al., vs. Town of Bar Harbor. He is represented by David Silk and Robert Papazian of the Portland law firm, Curtis Thaxter.
The first line of his support reads,
“Unsurprisingly, all three parties to this litigation, including the Defendant Town of Bar Harbor (the “Town”), object to Charles Sidman’s motion to intervene. To put it simply, this is because the three parties’ interests are aligned: they do not want the Ordinance to go into effect and want to supplant the will of the registered voters by having this court sanction and legitimize the already rejected industry-brokered MOA.”
Earlier, Sidman had asked to be able to support the defense. This is called a motion to intervene. He also has an alternative motion to participate in the case as an amicus curiae (friend of the court). All the other parties involved filed against that motion.
The MOA he references are the multiple memorandum of agreements with visiting cruise ship lines that the town manager had signed and a split council had approved. The memorandums had created caps on cruise ships based on monthly numbers and lower berth capacity. Lower berth capacity is basically the amount of beds that a cruise ship can hold.
At the Bar Harbor Town Council’s meeting in early February, town attorney, Stephen Wagner, from Rudman Winchell, one of a team of five working on litigation of APPLL et al vs Town of Bar Harbor gave a quick summary of the court case about the new daily cruise ship limits
“The council’s position is that the voters have spoke(n),” he said.
This means, he said, that the council will support the changes approved by voters in November and minimize the cost to the town. He said the council has acted aggressively to defend that ordinance. To say that this is something that is not as an aggressive defense as possible is inaccurate, he said, referring to a Sidman op-ed in the Mount Desert Islander and letter to councilors where he inferred it wasn’t. Sidman has doubled down on that assertion via the court brief filed February 21.
In that brief it states, “There is nothing to support the town’s assertion that it will defend the ordinance, especially when the parties’ proposed consent agreement creeps towards the town’s ultimate goal of effectuating the MOA.”
Sidman also argues that the town “is unwilling to mount a full-fledged defense of the ordinance.” The brief states that “the then-town manager was caught on video discussing the lawsuit with industry insiders and opponents of the ordinance, where he seemed to support the imposition of an injunction.”
The brief also argues that Sidman has standing to intervene, that his intervention is necessary for the case to be fair, and that the court “should invalidate any proposed agreement about the parties that renders the ordinance not effective.”
The original group’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court by the Association to Preserve & Protect Local Livelihoods aka APPLL (a recently formed nonprofit comprised mostly of business owners and employees) and includes the Golden Anchor L.C. (Harborside) and Bar Harbor Pierce, LLC as plaintiffs, alleges that the cap on disembarkations is not constitutional. It also states that Bar Harbor’s economy will suffer. The plaintiffs do not ask for damages other than for attorney’s fees and expenses, but that the ordinance be overturned. The Maine Pilot’s Association has also joined the suit.
The plaintiffs also include BH Piers/Harbor Place, BHWW (Bar Harbor Whale Watch), 495, 493, and 492 (ferry/cruise ship tenders). The suit speaks to how the change would impact the harbormaster’s duties as well.
The new plan limits the amount of passengers disembarking cruise ships each day to 1,000, inserts the changes into the town’s Land Use Ordinance, and calls for mechanisms to count those disembarkations as well as fines if more people leave the ships and step onto Bar Harbor land. Because of the lawsuit, the town has to defend those changes.
The council had an executive session prior to its regular, open meeting Feb 21 to hear an update about that litigation from the town’s attorney.
THE FULL FILING FROM FEBRUARY 21
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