While Nestle’s ads in the local papers refuse to acknowledge what they’re doing in Fryeburg (that’s five lawsuits/appeals and counting), the reality is this: the multinational has behaved badly towards this tiny rural town, which simply said “no” to Nestle’s attempt to build a 100 truck-trips-per-day truck loading station in a residential area.
Nestle responded with a series of suits and appeals, at one point essentially arguing in front of the Maine Supreme Court that their right to grow market share superseded the town’s right to say “no.”
Incidents like this put the lie to Nestle’s newly formulated “we’re a good corporate neighbor” public relations campaign, which is apparently what you do when you’re unwilling to alter your business model for a less predatory stance.
In June of 2005: Nestlé Waters North America submitted an application to the Fryeburg Planning Board to construct a trucking facility in a Rural Residential District. The site would be used to load up to 50 eighteen-wheeler water tanker trucks over a 24 hour period, seven days a week, 365 days a year with water extracted from the neighboring town of Denmark. All trucks would enter onto a section of Rt 302 that is identified by the Maine Department of Transportation as a high crash location.
On October 19, 2005: the Fryeburg Planning Board approved a 16 page result orientated decision drafted by only one member of the board and not shared with all members of the Planning Board until the night of the vote.
A loose knit group on citizens formed, calling themselves “Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.” The group hired an attorney and exercised their democratic right to file an appeal to the Fryeburg Zoning Board of Appeals in regards to the Planning Board’s decision.
On January 27, 2006: the Fryeburg Zoning Board of Appeals denied Nestlé’s permit issued by the Planning Board.
On March 21, 2006: Nestlé Waters North America Inc, as plaintiff, filed suit in the Oxford County Superior Court system against the Inhabitants of the Town of Fryeburg, Maine, the Board of Appeals of Said Town and Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.
On August 9, 2006: Superior Court Justice Roland A. Cole remanded the case back to the Fryeburg Planning Board for additional findings and conclusions on key points brought up by the citizens of Fryeburg in 2005.
On August 24, 2006: Nestlé does not follow Judge Cole’s remand, and instead filed suit in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Nestlé Waters North America v. Inhabitants of the Town of Fryeburg and Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.
On July 24, 2007: After numerous filing of briefs and oral testimony by both parties, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court concludes that because the Superior Court’s remand was not acted on by the Planning Board in Fryeburg, the case was not ripe for them to make a decision. The Court dismissed Nestlé’s arguments.
From July 31 to November 13, 2007: The Fryeburg Planning Board addressed the Superior Court remand and on November, 13 2007 denied Nestlé’s permit.
December 2007: Nestlé filed an appeal of the 2007 Fryeburg Planning Board’s decision to the local Fryeburg Zoning Board of Appeals.
On January 28, 2008: The Fryeburg Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the 2007 Planning Board decision and denies Nestlé a permit again.
On March 2008: Nestlé sued the town of Fryeburg again in the Maine Superior Court, Nestle Waters North America Inc v. Inhabitants of the Town of Fryeburg and Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.
On July 31, 2008: Judge Cole of the Maine Superior Court denied Nestlé a permit.
On September 25, 2008: Nestlé Waters North America Inc brings suit again to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Nestlé Waters North America Inc appellant v. Town of Fryeburg, Maine and Western Maine Residents for Rural Living, appellees.
As of October 17, 2008: The Supreme Court is awaiting the brief of Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.
At StopNestleWaters.org, we have to ask – is Nestle avaricious beyond all reason, or are they simply inept?
In Fryeburg, they’ve created a PR problem that simply isn’t going to go away – at least not as long as they’re suing the town in an attempt to force their truck loading station on it.
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