Maine Alliance for Road Associations
I feel compelled to reinforce Roberta's caution about initiating a lawsuit. I understand your reasons for being upset with your neighbors, but... since you are “very, very close to going forward”, I’m hoping I still have a chance to dissuade you from this course of action.
Roberta has said, “(A Lawsuit) rarely makes for better neighbors.” I couldn’t agree more! In 1997, I was involved in a lawsuit over a boundary line shared with a neighboring property owner. It turned out that our boundary was not a straight line between two markers but followed the curves of an old farm road. Hard feelings have not dissipated, in fact, may have increased on the neighbor's part even after this neighbor won the suit. Not good!
You have chosen to live with these neighbors. In my opinion, mediation offers the best hope for reducing the animosity in your neighborhood. Please agree not to go forward with a lawsuit until you have carefully considered mediation! At least wait until your immediate anger subsides before making your decision.
Thank You Roberta and Andrew!!!!
No anger here. More like righteous indignation.
Since the statute gives the majority of the owners the decision to determine a method of assessment, who exactly would make up the opposing contributors if there was a mediation?
Thank You, again!
If I were to decide the players in the room, I would want you, a majority of the Officers in your road association, and the mediator to be present.
My second choice for negotiator on the opposing side would be an owner chosen by the Officers or a majority vote of the owners.
Any agreement reached in the room would, of course, need to be approved by a majority vote of the owners to be effective.
Thank you, Andrew!!!!
I was afraid of that last part.
Unless a mediator's decision had the power of law (?), I believe that I would be back to square one.
A majority vote by the owners would seem to defeat the purpose of mediation. In my case.
By effective, I mean in reducing neighborhood tension. I’m not certain about the legal power of a negotiated agreement. Maybe Roberta knows. I don't believe the mediator renders a decision; the parties involved arrive at a mutually agreeable decision.
I have spoken with Roberta. The agreement, if one is reached, is not court ordered. Adherence to the agreement depends on the integrity of the participants. She advises contacting Family and Community Mediation (FCM). Sometimes they recommend whole communities attend a mediation.
I agree with Sandy. I would suggest contacting FCM and see what they recommend for parties who would need to attend the mediation. They can better explain to you how the process works and how binding the outcome is.
If the matter goes to Court, legal fees can skyrocket, and there is no guarantee you will be satisfied with the outcome. I certainly would not count on getting your legal fees reimbursed. I believe you said your annual dues are $600. That amount will buy you two hours of an attorney's time if you are lucky, and that won't even make a dent in the time he will spend preparing for the case before you even get to court.
Even if you did succeed in getting your legal fees reimbursed, you would then make enemies out of all the other members because everyone's dues (including yours) would have to go up in order to cover the cost. You need to consider how much it is worth in the long run to pursue your dispute. Do you want to live amongst neighbors or enemies when you are done? A skilled mediator, on the other hand, has a better chance of getting your neighbors to see things from your point of view (as well as getting you to see theirs) so you can find a way to resolve your differences.
The Maine Alliance for Road Associations