Fire rekindles access dispute

BAR HARBOR — In the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the Portside Grill earlier this month, a flap over access to the rear of the property, and that of the Thirsty Whale next door, has resurfaced.

The rear of the Portside property is accessible only through the parking lot behind the Rite Aid building. In 2009, amid a dispute over access between the owners of the Rite Aid building and the owners of the Thirsty Whale, Rite Aid building owner Leon Hubbard put up a fence.

Hubbard subsequently put a door in the fence to allow access to the rear of the Portside Grill. However, now that the building is gone, he is considering removing the door. He wrote the town’s code enforcement officer Angela Chamberlain on Sept. 9 to see if he needed a permit to do so and was told that he did not.

“Any building that is put up would have to meet current egress standards and utilize their own property for egress and not rely on using my property,” Hubbard wrote.

Chamberlain responded that no permit was necessary for removal of the door, and stated that she had no jurisdiction over civil claims of access or egress.

The fence was put up in 2008, while the owners of the Thirsty Whale were in the process of renovating their building. As a result, owners Heather Sorokin and Basil Eleftheriou decided to tear down the Thirsty Whale and rebuild in such a manner that they would have egress along the side of the building and no longer need access through the rear lot.

Sorokin and her husband claimed a prescriptive easement over the Rite Aid land, while Hubbard claimed no such thing existed. A court battle ensued, culminating with both sides agreeing in Superior Court to drop their claims in 2010.

Hubbard said in an email this week that he was not prepared to comment on his current plans. He did state, however, that he has an agreement with Portside Grill owner Vicki Hall granting her access through his property, with no plans for a change.

“If or when the Portside Grill is rebuilt, we will honor our agreement,” he said.

Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]