August 19, 2022

Man files Cutler base suit Legality of decision on future questioned

MACHIAS – A Machias man has filed suit against the Cutler Development Corp. alleging that the group didn’t have the legal authority to solicit proposals or make a decision on the future use of the former Cutler Navy base.

Greg Myers filed the suit on his own behalf and that of Residents Against Drug Abuse, a Machias-based group that is working to address Washington County’s epidemic of opiate abuse.

The civil lawsuit was filed on March 28 in Washington County Superior Court and requests a court review of the Feb. 26 decision by the Cutler Development Corp. to enter into final contract negotiations with Sunset Group LLC.

Sunset Group LLC – real estate developers from Jonesport, Atlanta and Vero Beach, Fla. – plans to sell off the 61 units of base housing and market the 22 buildings on the administrative side of the base to businesses worldwide.

The Cutler Development Corp. chose Sunset LLC over Sunrise Development Corp., a developer of time share vacation resorts, and Maine Lighthouse Corp., a private, nonprofit organization that wanted to create a residential drug treatment center at the former base.

Myers’ suit maintains that the Washington County Development Authority – not the Cutler Development Corp. – is the legal entity charged with taking title to the base property from the Navy and transferring it to another user.

The Washington County Development Authority can delegate its authority to a private corporation, but never has entered into a contract with Cutler Development Corp., according to the suit, which maintains that, as of March 20, the authority hadn’t convened a formal session, elected officers or adopted bylaws.

The suit, filed by lawyer Edmond Bearor of Bangor, also maintains that the Sunset Group LLC proposal was submitted after the deadline for proposals and, as a result, the corporation’s choice of that project was “arbitrary and capricious,” and based on deficient procedures.

David Eldridge, chairman of Cutler Development Corp, said Monday that he understands Residents Against Drug Abuse supported the drug treatment center proposal, but that the corporation stands by the process it used to make a decision.

The original deadline for applications was Oct. 11, and both Maine Lighthouse Corp. and Sunrise Development submitted proposals by that deadline. On Nov. 7, the Cutler Development Corp. voted to reject the drug treatment proposal and asked for more information from the time share developer, Eldridge said.

The Sunset LLC proposal was submitted in January, he said.

On Feb. 26, before making a decision, the corporation voted down the time share proposal and then voted to reconsider both the time share proposal and the drug treatment proposal, he said.

The board then rescored those two proposals and scored the more recent Sunset LLC proposal, with Sunset receiving the highest score, Eldridge said

Eldridge said the Washington County Development Authority is merely a pass-through agency and that the intent of the congressional legislation that cleared the way for the Cutler Development Corp. was to allow the property to be passed along to a local entity.

The Maine Legislature created the Washington County Development Authority to take title of the property from the Navy and pass it through to the Cutler Development Corp., he said.

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