ROCKPORT — It appears the fight over the Rockport Harbor Hotel under construction in the village is not over, despite a widely publicized letter last week from the Friends of Rockport.

Portland attorney Kristin Collins of PretiFlaherty, who has been representing the group called Friends of Rockport and architect John Priestley in appeals of the hotel’s approval and building permit, sent a letter May 26 to the Rockport Zoning Board of Appeals, which states:

“I am writing regarding the separate appeals that are pending before the Rockport Board of Appeals regarding (1) the Planning Board’s decision on remand from the Superior Court; and (2) the Code Enforcement Officer’s issuance of a building permit for the 20-room hotel.

“Appellants Friends of Rockport wish to withdraw the appeal of the building permit which they filed on April 26, 2022, and waive any right to hearing or decision on that appeal. Mr. Priestley at this time is not withdrawing from that appeal.

“The appellants do not withdraw the appeal of the Planning Board’s decision, which was heard by the Board of Appeals on May 10, 2022. They respectfully request that the Board proceed to a final decision on that appeal.”

On May 24, the Friends of Rockport posted a statement on their Facebook page under the heading, “Friends of Rockport withdraw from Rockport Harbor Hotel litigation.”

“Having achieved our primary goals, Friends of Rockport has decided to withdraw from any further litigation related to the Rockport Harbor Hotel,” the post stated in part.

The letter was also published on The Pen Bay Pilot website and on VillageSoup and in The Camden Herald.

The statement from the group quickly raised questions among the Town of Rockport’s staff as to what this means going forward. The Zoning Board of Appeals met May 10 to discuss the appeal of the Planning Board decision and seemed poised to uphold the Planning Board. The zoning board did not take votes at the meeting, but plans to issue official findings of fact at its June 2 meeting and take up the other appeal which deals with the building permit.

Local architect John Priestley has been involved in the appeals with the Friends of Rockport group, but he is specified in the lawyer’s letter. Priestley is the member of the group that has standing to file appeals because he has property directly across the street from the hotel project. In addition, he is apparently continuing with an effort the rest of the Friends group is withdrawing from.

On May 25, Rockport Planning and Development Director Orion Thomas reached out to Priestley and Mark Schwarzmann via email:

“I am reaching out for clarity regarding the letter to the editor from Clare Tully regarding the Friends of Rockport withdrawing their litigation against the Rockport Harbor hotel and not wanting to waste taxpayers money. With the appeal still on the books for June 2nd, are you both still wanting to continue with your appeal?”

“…The reason both of you are on this email is because John’s name is the applicant on the appeal and Mark signed and paid for the application when dropping it off. I would need to hear from you both if you are interested in withdrawing one or both appeals. Otherwise, we will proceed as scheduled.”

Priestley responded via email, saying, “Before I can answer that question, I believe you still owe me (us) an answer on questions posed to you well over a year ago. Specifically, what are you and the Town (the Select Board) committed to doing to resolve the many-years overdue Site Plan reviews for 18 Central Bistro and Sea Folk, which you know are required by the Land Use Ordinance but were never held. I look forward to your response.”

Thomas confirmed that 18 Central is not related to the present appeals concerning the hotel.

Stuart, Marianne and Tyler Smith are the developers for the hotel project. Opponents of the hotel argue that it eliminates a scenic view in Rockport village, does not meet town parking requirements and does not fit into the character of the surrounding buildings.