Cap’n Nemo’s restaurant was destroyed in a December 2013 fire. FILE PHOTO

Nemo’s owners threaten new suit

TREMONT — The couple suing members of the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department alleging that firefighters conspired to let their restaurant burn to the ground in a December 2013 fire are threatening another lawsuit against the town and others.

In a Nov. 4 email to the town from Robert and Judy Cousins, owners of Cap’n Nemo’s restaurant, the couple explained they are upset over a stop work order issued by code enforcement officer Debbi Nickerson. Nickerson issued the order Oct. 19 after she reportedly found a section of the concrete slab poured for reconstruction of the restaurant was outside of the lines approved by the town’s planning board.

The couple is threatening to name Nickerson, Town Manager Dana Reed, the town and the Mount Desert Islander as defendants.

“This is a notice of suit being filed in Federal District Court against you [Reed] individually and in your official capacity, the CEO [Nickerson] in her individual and official capacity, the town of Tremont and the MDIslander who [sic] trumpets your inaccuracies and misinformation to the unsuspecting public while acting under color of law,” the couple wrote in an email to the town. An informal email is not a legal method for formal notification of a lawsuit.

The couple also makes reference to taking the stop work order issue to state court, which is the proper venue for appeals of decisions by a code enforcement officer.

“We remind you that the town will be held accountable for the fraud in court,” they write.

In the same email, the couple requests that “changes to our plan” regarding reconstruction of the restaurant be put on the agenda for the next available planning board meeting. Nickerson, in a Nov. 9 letter to the Cousins, stated that modifying or amending the building permit issued to them on April 22, 2014, was not possible because more than a year had elapsed since the permit was issued.

“If you would like to build something different on your property other than that for which you have been previously approved to build … please submit a new building permit application to the town office,” Nickerson writes.

At a selectmen’s meeting Monday, Reed informed the board that he has discussed the matter with the town attorney.

Also at that meeting, Reed reported that he has fielded “numerous” complaints about the Cap’n Nemo’s property, which is at the intersection of Harbor Drive and the Flatiron Road.

One issue is a flatbed trailer, apparently owned by the Cousins, parked along the Flatiron Road. Drivers have complained that the trailer is partially in the roadway. Reed said he has met with a sheriff’s deputy to discuss the situation.

“That flatbed trailer parked there is clearly within the town’s right-of-way,” Reed said, adding that he plans to notify the couple that the trailer must be moved.

The other concern involves a sizeable powerboat stored with its bow near the point where the two roads intersect. Drivers are complaining that the boat blocks their view of oncoming traffic while pulling onto Harbor Drive.

“That can stay,” Reed said. “As long as it’s not in the right-of-way, the town can do nothing about it.”

The Cousins currently are appealing their original lawsuit against firefighters to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The move comes after a federal judge in August denied a motion by the couple to reconsider his earlier dismissal of that action.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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