OWLS HEAD, Maine — A judge has ruled that local residents can appeal the town’s decision last year to allow a lunch wagon to operate in their neighborhood. The residents argue that the approval violated the town’s zoning ordinance.
The attorney for the neighbors said Wednesday that they would proceed with their appeal to the town even though the lunch wagon has since closed and its owner is in jail, accused of robbing a pharmacy.
Justice Daniel Billings ruled Tuesday in Knox County Superior Court in favor of Myles Peter Rogers, Annie Higbee and Reginald LeHouillier, all of Owls Head. The judge pointed out that the town of Owls Head had decided not to participate in the appeal and defend the town’s approval. Larry and Donald Keating, who had gotten approval to operate the lunch wagon, also did not file a response with the court.
Donald Keating, who operated the lunch wagon, was arrested in September for robbery of the Kennebec Pharmacy and Home Care in Rockport. He remains at the Knox County Jail in Rockland.
Attorney Paul Gibbons said Wednesday that the neighbors will go back before the town to get the permit revoked to make sure the lunch stand does not reopen.
In August 2013, the town’s planning board approved the lunch wagon, the Beachside Grill, to operate on Ballyhac Road.
However, the neighbors who filed suit said they were not aware of the action until November. The neighbors filed an appeal with the Owls Head Zoning Board of Appeals in January but that board rejected it, saying that the appeal was not filed in time. The residents then filed the appeal to court in February.
The neighbors claimed that the lunch wagon’s location, near Birch Point Beach State Park, would attract a large number of people during the summer, “overwhelming the property with commercial activity in this rural area.” They also argued that the zone is a rural residential one that prohibits restaurants.
Justice Billings ruled that the neighbors have 60 days to file a new appeal with the zoning board that must be heard.