ELLSWORTH — A judge in Hancock County Superior Court Tuesday said he would have a speedy ruling on the state’s request for a temporary restraining order against landowner and developer Dale Henderson, who is challenging the state’s ownership of the Calais to Brewer rail line.
Henderson erected a berm and a pile of large rocks at both ends of the rail line in Hancock that traverses his 6,800-acre property and berms on the rail line at either end of land he owns in Steuben.
At issue is the Maine Department of Transportation’s rehabilitation of 82 miles of rail line for use by hikers, cross-country skiers, bicyclists, snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicles. The work is about half completed and is set to resume in the spring.
Henderson claims the state doesn’t own the land.
The attorney representing the state, Rebecca Farnum of Thompson & Bowie in Portland, said there would be irreparable harm to the state if it were not allowed to continue with the “rails to trails” project.
She said the state has a title opinion that asserts the state’s ownership of the rail property. Also, Farnum said, it is clear the state intended to have ownership of the land for possible future rail development.
Pease said his client would be harmed if the state is allowed to continue to tear up the rail and sell the iron. He added that Henderson has not been cited by the DEP for any violations.
A court visit to see Henderson’s rock pile was postponed due to a hearing that was continuing from the day before.