AUGUSTA — City councilors unanimously approved a temporary agreement Thursday for a Boothby Street family to continue driving across the public works site to get to their home.

The Poulin family had been getting to and from their home by traveling across the public works site off North Street, and recently sued Augusta to keep that access open. The agreement will allow them limited access until the lawsuit is resolved.

An attorney for Monique and Robert Poulin, and Monique Poulin’s mother, Lorraine Piteau, said the temporary agreement, if the arrangement works out for both his clients and the city, could be the basis of a longer-term solution. The lawsuit remains in place, however, and will move ahead unless a settlement is reached.

“If it does work, then we should be able to negotiate the terms of a final agreement along the same lines,” said Jed Davis, of Mitchell and Davis, who represented the family in what he described as extensive negotiations with Stephen Langsdorf, the city attorney. “My clients are hopeful that this temporary agreement will, after some months, lead to a final agreement.”

He said the situation involving the property — which has an official address on Boothby Street, accessible from that street only by a steep wooden set of 100 stairs, but at ground level via a driveway reached only by crossing a portion of the city’s John Charest Public Works Facility — comes with a strange and unique set of facts, unlike any other he’s encountered in his 55 years of practicing law.

Langsdorf and City Manager William Bridgeo also have described the situation as unique, with Bridgeo saying he has not encountered anything like it in his 20 years in Augusta, or previously in his career.

City councilors voted 7-0 Thursday night to authorize Bridgeo to sign the agreement.

Davis said Friday his clients planned to sign the agreement that afternoon.

The temporary license agreement allows the Poulin family to reach their home by crossing the public works property on a limited basis — only during the day, when the facility is open, and only if they let public works officials know they’re coming or going ahead of time, either by phone or in person.

The agreement was proposed after discussion in a judicial settlement conference, conducted last week by Superior Court Chief Justice Roland Cole. Jennifer Bryant, a lawyer with Davis’ firm also representing the family, and Langsdorf took part in the conference.

The Boothby Street residents, who say their family has driven across the city property safely to get to and from their home for 70 years, sued the city of Augusta to prevent it from blocking off their access across the public works site. The suit alleges that if the city makes good on a warning that it would block access to their driveway, it will jeopardize their safety by cutting off the only access they have to their home other than the stairs. Two of the home’s three residents have disabilities and mobility problems.

The agreement stipulates the city will not block or obstruct access to the Poulin property across the public works lot, but also will not perform any maintenance of the site for the benefit of the Poulins.

Langsdorf said the agreement is an attempt to balance the needs of the family with the need for safety and security at the public works site, where large dump trucks are filled with sand and salt and other pieces of heavy, expensive equipment are regularly in motion. The route to the Poulin’s lot passes by a large sand shed, which is especially busy during snowstorms, and areas where dirt, granite and other building materials are stored.

Langsdorf said the Poulins providing advance notice they plan to crossing public works land would allow officials to notify any workers in that area that they would be coming through.

The agreement also includes a waiver of liability in which the Poulins agree they will not sue the city if something happens to them while crossing the property.

The agreement additionally states the city will have an engineer evaluate the condition of the Poulins’ stairs and help the family try to obtain grant funding to improve their access.

Langsdorf said no city money would — or could — be spent upgrading the privately owned stairs.

The home was built in 1948 by Robert Poulin’s father, and Robert has lived in the home all his life. Monique Poulin said it has been accessed all that time primarily by cutting across what was first the city dump and — since the 1970s —the public works headquarters, to a driveway that leads to the family’s home at ground level.

Earlier this year Monique Poulin asked city officials for an access card that would have allowed the family to open a gate at the public works entrance when public works is closed, on nights and weekends. In September, city councilors discussed the issue and, while not voting, expressed no interest in allowing the family to have an access card to be able to get through the gate at all times.

Davis said he and the Poulins are pleased city councilors approved the agreement, that city officials negotiated in good faith, and understood the quandary his clients would be in if their only vehicular access to their home were cut off.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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