Bucksport motel owner alleges bias in town proceedings

BUCKSPORT — A local motel was declared a dangerous building a few months ago but the owner, a Jersey City, N.J., man, alleges that the town of Bucksport and its code enforcement officer showed bias toward him during the dangerous building proceedings.

Portland attorney William J. Kennedy of Drummond and Drummond represents Spring Fountain/Fountain Inn owner Asad Khaqan and has filed an appeal in Hancock County Superior Court requesting a trial of the facts.

Among the issues of alleged bias cited, Kennedy said that the photographs that Code Enforcement Officer Luke Chiavelli presented to the council “failed to display numerous remedial measures carried out by the plaintiff.”

Also, the council didn’t allow Khaqan to cross-examine and/or directly challenge the code enforcement officer, the attorney alleged.

Meanwhile, the town of Bucksport responded with a filing on June 28 asking the court to deny Khaqan’s appeal.

Bucksport’s attorney, Zachary Brandwein of Bernstein Shur, stated in the court filing that Khaqan’s assertions of bias are without merit.

“He [Khaqan] cites no substantial evidence to conclude the Town Council was actually biased,” said Brandwein. The council never denied Khaqan the ability to speak.

The attorney also argued that Khaqan “fully participated” in the April 8 hearing and cannot “retry the matter now.”

Khaqan’s attorney renewed the appeal on Friday stating among other arguments that the only evidence presented to the town in favor of declaring the property a dangerous building was presented by the code enforcement officer and that the evidence was not made available to Khaqan to review and rebut.

Friday’s filing puts the ball back in Bucksport’s court so to speak.

It could be months before the situation is resolved. Once Bucksport files a response, a judge has 90 days to make a decision, according to court personnel.

The Bucksport Town Council made its dangerous building decision at the board’s April 8 meeting and after a lengthy hearing which Khaqan attended via a teleconferencing platform.

The council cited safety issues for both motel guests as well as public safety personnel who must respond to the property in an emergency. The property offered rooms for rent by the week and the month. Spring Fountain, most recently doing business as the Fountain Inn, was no longer licensed as a motel.

The Dangerous Building Order gave Khaqan 90 days from the date of the order to do the necessary work.

The dangerous building designation also provides the town of Bucksport the authority to “do all the things necessary to effectuate the removal and/or demolition of the said dangerous buildings, structures and nuisances,” if Khaqan does not comply.

There were several families living at the property without heat or water, according to testimony from the dangerous building hearing.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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