ME - Maine private beaches: Group asks court to rule on public access
WELLS, Maine — People may not have played bocce on the beach back in colonial times, but if they had, then that would have been their right, according to a group that is asking the Maine Superior Court to rule that the public is allowed to enjoy shores all up and down the state’s coast.
Earlier this month, Our Maine Beaches filed a motion in Maine Superior Court, seeking a summary judgment ruling that many uses of the state’s beaches and intertidal lands are legal and allowed under current law.
A summary judgment is a decision by a judge that is based on statements and evidence and results in a case not needing to proceed to trial.
The motion is the latest development in a legal battle in which Our Maine Beaches has challenged the position of some coastal property owners that the intertidal lands they own are private and not for public use.
In its motion, Our Maine Beaches states that language going back to colonial times clearly intended to protect many public uses along the coast.
Benjamin Ford, the attorney representing the group, said that public authorities wanted to “permanently protect” beaches for everyone when they crafted language and laws more than 300 years ago. Back then, according to Ford, all uses of beaches could be “neatly summed up in three words: fishing, fowling and navigation.”