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Agreement reached over disputed mill site in East Millinocket, Maine

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (From the Press Herald) -- A dispute over the sale of a former paper mill in East Millinocket has been settled, but the lawyers involved aren't divulging details for now.

A Maine partnership called EMEP sued North American Recovery Management in federal court on Feb. 28, alleging that the Florida-based company had breached its contract to sell the mill property to the partnership. EMEP planned to set up a refinery to convert woody biomass to fuel at the site.

About 250 workers lost their jobs in early 2013 when Great Northern Paper closed the East Millinocket plant, where paper had been produced for more than a century.

NARM, which specializes in dismantling and selling off parts of defunct industrial operations, bought the site in March 2016 and began tearing down buildings and selling off machinery.

EMEP sought to buy the site for an "energy park," which would include biomass power plants and the biorefinery. It said construction would create 2,000 direct and indirect jobs and the biorefinery alone would generate more than 100 permanent jobs.

The two parties signed a letter of intent for EMEP to buy the site on June 30, but EMEP said NARM never responded to its proposed final purchase agreement and continued to dismantle buildings, including some that EMEP wanted to use in connection with the biorefinery. The suit also said NARM sought other buyers for the site.

When EMEP sued, a judge agreed to a temporary restraining order, ordering NARM to stop dismantling buildings and cease any efforts to find another buyer.

NARM contended it wasn't bound by the original letter of intent to sell the plant to EMEP, saying it had expired because EMEP didn't followed up with a formal purchase proposal. But EMEP said it repeatedly prodded NARM to respond once it did submit the formal proposal, and that NARM never returned a $100,000 deposit on the site.

A trial in the suit was scheduled to start Friday, but in a motion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland, EMEP and NARM said they have reached a settlement in their dispute that will close in 60 days. The motion asked the judge to lift the restraining order and put off any further legal proceedings until at least July 2.

The motion doesn't offer any details on the settlement and Thimi Mina, the lawyer representing EMEP, said he couldn't comment on the case.

David Soley, the lawyer representing NARM, did not respond to an email seeking comment.


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