HARPSWELL — A Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday against a group that sued the town in a bid to save an old water tower at Mitchell Field from demolition.

Cumberland County Superior Court Justice A. M. Horton ruled that selectmen acted reasonably in rejecting a petition from the Friends of Mitchell Field and that the group did not follow Maine law in calling for an alternative town meeting.

“It gives the town what it wants, but it gives it on grounds that the town won’t be happy with,” said Robert McIntyre, a spokesman for Friends of Mitchell Field.

“We’re very pleased with the decision,” Harpswell Town Attorney Amy Tchao said. “I think it vindicated the town’s handling of this matter, and I think the court saw that the town acted fairly in dealing with the petitioners’ request from start to finish.”

McIntyre said that the Friends of Mitchell Field will meet to discuss whether to appeal the ruling and continue its months-long battle with the town over the fate of the water tower.

The tower was originally installed in the mid-20th century by the Navy, which used Mitchell Field as a fuel depot. It’s been unused in the decades since the Navy abandoned the site and turned it over to the town. Although the town has discussed renovating or repurposing the water tower, those conversations never produced any reasonable use for it.

Selectman David I. Chipman has been a vocal advocate over the years for using the tower as a water supply for Mitchell Field, but a study found that there were far cheaper ways to supply water to the property. The Harpswell Neck Fire Department has not expressed any interest or need for the additional water source.

The Friends of Mitchell Field have argued that the water tower is the ideal structure to house cellphone equipment, saying that could be of great interest to residents on the Neck, where service is spotty.

The town, however, hasn’t found a company with serious interest in installing equipment on the tower. The only two companies to express any interest in doing so ultimately withdrew their bids.

After years of debate, the town presented voters with a choice at their annual town meeting in March: Allow an outside group to take over management of the tower, or have it demolished. Harpswell voters decided it was time to demolish it.

The Friends of Mitchell Field, which had been formed by a handful of Harpswell residents with the express intent of taking over management of the water tower, was unhappy with that result and, in the following months, worked to overturn that decision.

In April, the group produced a petition calling for a new vote on demolishing the water tower, claiming that the town meeting vote was based on misinformation. Selectmen denied that petition.

However, Friends of Mitchell Field argued that the selectmen were wrong to deny a petition with valid signatures, and organized their own unauthorized town meeting. The town’s attorney claimed that the warrant for that town meeting was invalid, and shortly thereafter the Friends of Mitchell Field filed a lawsuit against the town.

The lawsuit rested on two main arguments. First, the group claimed that the selectmen broke the law by rejecting the petition. Secondly, they argued that their warrant calling for a town meeting through a public notary was valid.

Horton rejected both claims.

He said selectmen are well within their authority to reject petitions calling for a revote of an issue recently voted on at town meeting, such as the demolition of the water tower. He also pointed out that the Friends of Mitchell Field was wrong to use that same petition to call for a town meeting after the selectmen rejected it. In order to call for a town meeting through a public notary, the Friends of Mitchell Field would have to a circulate a separate petition for that purpose, he said.

McIntyre said that the group was relying on advice from “the leading expert” on the petition process, although he would not disclose the name of that person.

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