Town of Cape Eliz. vs. Lumbery

Town of Cape Eliz. vs. Lumbery

From Michael Friedland

Today I’m writing to you with a heartfelt request on behalf of the Lumbery. The legal expenses we have incurred as a result of the Town’s actions against us have been immense – and the outlay threatens the survival of...

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Today I’m writing to you with a heartfelt request on behalf of the Lumbery. The legal expenses we have incurred as a result of the Town’s actions against us have been immense – and the outlay threatens the survival of the business. Right now we need to be ordering lumber for next spring, but the cash reserves we need to do that are gone. So today I'm asking for your help.

Our campaign:  

We have started this fundraiser to help pay for legal fees and other expenses incurred as a result of the actions of Town officials. We’ve set a goal of $40,000, which sounds like a lot…but in reality it’s only a small fraction of the money we’ve spent trying to satisfy the demands of the Town of Cape Elizabeth over the past 4 years. More about that below.

Questions: Why has there been a 4.5 million dollar lawsuit filed against us for violations relating to the placement of outdoor displays?

Was it because of safety concerns? No.

Pedestrian and vehicle circulation issues? No

Parking minimums? No.

Setback infractions? No.

Ordinance violations? No.

Is there a precedent for suing a local business? No.

Does any other business have to abide by this display placement criteria? No.

Then why? 

Great question.

Why has this been so difficult when it could have been so easy? Why have non-issues been made into major issues?

Answers: I have none. The actions of the Town Planner and Planning Board over the past four years are incomprehensible…and appear to be based solely on bias against me and my business.

Unnecessary actions: Renovation of our existing building, which is situated on an existing lot with an existing site plan which allows for retail (It was a Cumberland Farms), should have simply required building permits. Instead, the Town put us through an exhaustive 13-month process that cost more than $80,000 in engineering studies, architect fees, attorney fees, traffic studies, and the services of the Town Engineer. It even included $12,000 for a new streetlight on public property.

Furthermore, we needed to disprove an exaggerated report from the Town Engineer which stated that the lack of a topcoat of pavement is a safety concern. Nevermind that it is not a code requirement. This cost amounted to $25,000 in engineers, lawyers, core samples, environmental specialists and paving specialists…plus 6 months of wasted time.

Filings and additional expenses: We have been served with papers twice. The first time was to bring us to small claims court for refusing to pay for the services of the Town Engineer who created an exaggerated report regarding topcoats that cost us $25,000 to refute.

The second time is for moving display items around our lot without the explicit consent of the Planning Board via a site plan amendment which takes, on average, 6 months and $20,000.  It should be noted that we are the only site in the Town of Cape Elizabeth for which this rule applies.

Expenses incurred since 2020 to cover Town related expenses have amounted to over $160,000.

All of these actions along with the continued actions of our Town government make it abundantly clear that Cape Elizabeth is not friendly to businesses.

Why this matters: We believe that the Town of Cape Elizabeth is a wonderful place to grow our business. But changes need to happen. Changes to the way things have been done. Small businesses, like ours, need support. We need to show other businesses that Cape Elizabeth wants to encourage positive growth within its Town Center and if the Town government will not do it then the people will.

Your support: Any amount you can donate will help! Be sure to forward this to anyone interested or invested in seeing the Lumbery survive and thrive. And please keep emailing the Cape Elizabeth Town Councilors. Let them know that we are watching.

And they might not appreciate what we are doing but to quote Deion Sanders…”guess what, we’re going to consistently do what we do, because I am here and I ain’t going nowhere, and I’m about to get comfortable in a minute.”


Mike, Jenn, Ryan and the entire Lumbery crew.

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