Judge Grants Order to Block Demolition of Great Northern Paper Mill Property

Mar 1, 2017

BANGOR, Maine - Officials with the town of East Millinocket say they're relieved that a judge has granted a temporary restraining order that keeps buildings at the former Great Northern Paper Mill property from being demolished.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," says Select Board Chair Mark Scally.

Scally says an investment group has been working to create a biofuels facility on that site, and any set-back, such as the loss of important infrastructure, would not have been good news for that project.

"We've been let down so much in the past," Scally says. "We hope for the best for this investor, because we've have a good relationship in our talks with them."

The town has been without a major taxpayer and employer since the closure of the Great Northern Paper Mill.

The investment group that wants to buy the site, referred to in court documents as EMEP LLC, asserts that the property's owner, North American Recovery Management, or NARM, violated an agreement by destroying some of its facilities. It alleges that NARM is also preparing to accept new offers for the property.

Select Board Chair Scally says the town tried, but was unable, to intervene on behalf of the new investor on the grounds that NARM owed the town some $140,000 in back taxes. EMEP filed for the order in U.S. District Court Tuesday.

The same-day decision by U.S. District Judge John Levy finds that the letter of intent between EMEP and NARM appears to be an enforceable contract, and that EMEP would suffer irreparable harm should NARM renege on its agreement.

Judge Levy also found that EMEP made a persuasive case in demonstrating potential benefit to the public from its project, which it is estimated will bring some 100  jobs to the Katahdin region.

The judgment does not make clear how long the TRO is in force.