The state’s highest court has sided with an inn owned by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in a legal action filed by a neighbor who fought an expansion.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued its ruling Tuesday in an appeal filed by Steven Wolfram over the expansion of the Nebo Lodge in 2014. The town and the inn were named in his legal action.

Wolfram had appealed a ruling issued in April 2016 by Justice Daniel Billings that dismissed the neighbor’s claim that the town was biased against him and that the project did not meet local zoning laws.

“Wolfram’s contention that the procedural unfairness was endemic to the entire process before the Town is unsupported and unpersuasive. Because there is a dearth of evidence in the record that the BOA decision was the product of bias or procedural unfairness, we conclude that the decision did not violate Wolfram’s due process rights,” the state Supreme Judicial Court said in its ruling.

Hannah Pingree, who manages the inn, said the ruling was great news. Hannah Pingree is the daughter of Rep. Pingree.

“We are relieved to find the Maine Supreme Court agreed with our local planning board and upheld their decision, in support of the permit for Nebo Lodge. It has taken years, and thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees for the town of North Haven and Nebo Lodge to get this behind us,” Hannah Pingree said after the ruling.


Wolfram had contested the construction of the two-story, 40-by-26-foot building since before it was completed in the spring of 2014. The building was built to include storage space, an office and lodging for two employees.

Wolfram is a U.S. citizen who lives in France, but summers at his home next to the lodge, which he purchased in 2009.

Wolfram contends construction of the building, which replaced a deteriorated bungalow, violated town ordinances because the lodge was a nonconforming use. The construction exceeded the area allowed for an expansion and exceeded the amount of development allowed on a lot, he claimed.

The high court justices also rejected those arguments.

“The BOA did not err in applying the Ordinance, and its finding that the annex use would not have an adverse impact on the quiet possession of surrounding properties,” the high court ruled.

The judges stated that “not only would there be no adverse impact, but in fact the change in use would ameliorate noise and visual impacts because the annex would be used to store recycling, trash, and bicycles inside. The expansion would also reduce car traffic because employees would sleep on site.”

The expansion was originally approved by the town Planning Board in December 2013 and the Board of Appeals upheld the approval in March 2014.

North Haven is located 12 miles off Rockland in Penobscot Bay with a year-round population of 355. Pingree is a resident of the island and purchased the inn in the early 2000s.

Nebo Lodge has nine guest rooms.

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