31 January 2016: Clary Lake Shore Owners Rubin & Ayer File Suit in Superior Court

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Bob Rubin and Cheryl Ayer sitting on their dock. Photograph by George Fergusson, 28 August 2015

[dropcap]In[/dropcap] yesterday’s Central Maine Papers article about the Clary Lake dam auction, reporter Jessica Lowell attempted to convey a sense of the frenetic, escalating pace of recent events surrounding the Clary Lake water level crisis by listing some of what just took place in January. One item that should have grabbed your attention was the statement regarding Clary Lake shore owners Robert Rubin and Cheryl Ayer, husband and wife lawyers, who have filed suit against Paul Kelley and Richard Smith in Lincoln County Superior Court. They are seeking damages for harm done to their Clary Lake front property as the result of low water conditions that have severely impacted the use and enjoyment of their property. The picture at left, taken by me last August, shows Bob and Cheryl sitting on their dock 6′ above bare rocks. That is as close as I could approach in my boat.

The Clary Lake Association Board was told of the pending lawsuit several months ago by Cheryl Ayer, who most of you know is a CLA Board member. However, I must stress that the Board was not involved in the decision to file, or when to file in any way.  We were not asked for help or advice with the suit by Bob or Cheryl, and the Board did not try to influence them in any way. We also did not learn of the specific claims in the lawsuit prior to its being filed several weeks ago. In short, while the CLA Board discussed on several occasions the impact the filing of the suit might have on negotiations which were then still underway, it was made abundantly clear to us that we had no control over the filing of the suit. The decision to file, what to file, and when to file was Bob and Cheryl’s alone and was made solely by them.

Perhaps you think I’m putting too fine a point on our not having had anything to do with the suit, but we realize that because of Cheryl Ayer’s role as a Board member, and because Bob Rubin represented the Clary Lake Association as an intervener in the water level petition proceedings back in 2012 and 2013 (a role which ended with the issuance of the Water Level Order in late January 2014), public perception will be that the CLA Board is a party to this suit or has in some way played a role in it. I can assure you that is not the case.

With last fall’s Notice of Violation issued by DEP, the recent Superior Court ruling in favor of the State’s Motion to dismiss, and the just completed foreclosure/auction of the Clary Lake dam, this lawsuit simply couldn’t come at a more opportune time. We’re building some real momentum! It is the right of any citizen to act on their own initiative, in a manner allowed by law, to seek compensation for damage to their property. We applaud Bob and Cheryl’s decision to take action and we completely understand their motivation. We share their anger and frustration as do a lot of other people around Clary Lake, some of whom may decide to take similar action.

Finally, I obtained a copy of the complaint from Superior Court shortly after it was filed on January 11, 2016. I decided however that I would not write about it on this site until Mr. Kelley and Mr. Smith had been served or until it appeared elsewhere in the news. The latter threshold has arrived, but it is my understanding that service has still not occurred so I will not be posting the complaint at this time, nor will I discuss the actual claims in the complaint. It is however a public record so you are free to go to the County Court House in Wiscasset and get your own copy, if you can’t wait! They charge $2.00 for the first page and $1.00 for each additional page. Be prepared to spend $25 or so. You might however just be patient, sit back and wait as events inexorably unfold, as they surely will. Mr. Kelley and Mr. Smith cannot avoid service forever.