PARIS — The towns motion to dismiss Bitim Enterprises’ challenge to Norway’s right to take the Opera House by eminent domain was granted Friday morning by an Oxford Superior Court judge.

But not before former Opera House owner Barry Mazzaglia, of Bitim Enterprises in Londonderry, N.H., told the judge that no lawyer would represent him against the town because of  “political” reasons, recited part of the Declaration of Independence saying “all men are created equal” and asked the judge to stop the media from taking his picture in court.

According to the ruling, which was handed down within 30 minutes of the hearing’s end, Judge Robert Clifford dismissed Bitim’s challenge with prejudice and without costs to either party. The decision means that Mazzaglia can bring the challenge back to the Superior Court at a later date, said Court Clerk Donna Howe.

In December, more than 200 voters approved the taking of the three-story brick building and prominent clock tower, by eminent domain after negotiations with Mazzaglia to buy the property failed. The building is considered the heart of the downtown National Historic District.

The town’s action was taken more than two years after a portion of the Opera House roof collapsed on Sept. 21, 2007, due to the weight of water pooled on the roof. The collapse severed a sprinkler pipe, adding to the flood of water that cascaded to the two first floor businesses and compromising the integrity of the building.

Officials have become alarmed by the building’s instability, which according to two engineering studies, show it to be “unsafe to the public and neighboring property” and the owner’s unwillingness and inability to stabilize the building adequately.

Earlier this year the town released $185,000 of a $200,000 donation from Norway residents Bill and Beatrice Damon to the Oxford County courthouse where it is being held pending a determination by a judge on what price the town will have to pay Mazaglia for the property taking. The 17,618-square-foot building, which sits on about a quarter-acre of land downtown, has been appraised at $185,000 by Patricia Amidon of Amidon Appraisal Co. in Portland.

Friday’s case was one of three involving the Opera House eminent domain taking currently under review by the Oxford County Superior Court. The others cases remain, including a challenge to the amount of money the town has offered for the taking.

In Friday’s action, Mazzaglia, who sat at the plaintiff’s desk with a large pile of paperwork and writing notes, told the judge that attorneys have refused to represent him because of “political” reasons. “I’ve been refused by numerous attorneys,” Mazzaglia said.

Under Maine law, the New Hampshire businessman must obtain an attorney’s licensed to practice in Maine.

“Attorneys so far have refused to take this matter saying they don’t want their names in the newspapers against the town of Norway,” Mazzaglia said.

“Lawyers represent criminals,” responded Clifford, who reminded Mazzaglia that the same discussion was had in February. “You said you would be diligent in getting an attorney,” Clifford said.

Mazzaglia began his presentation to the court by asking that the media stop taking his picture.

“I have rights,” said Barry Mazzaglia. “I wasn’t notified the newspaper would be here.”

“It’s a public procedure,” said Cliufford, who told Mazzaglia he had not demonstrated a reason to deny the newspapers request.

“I have a family,” Mazzaglia said.

“We all have families,” responded the judge.

His request was denied.

Attorney Norman J. Rattey of Skelton, Taintor & Abbot, who is representing the town of Norway in the eminent domain process, told the judge, “Here we are five months later and we’re in the same situation.”

Mazzaglia has attempted to delay court proceedings before. Last October he told an Oxford Superior Court judge that he was not the owner of the Opera House. The judge said that Mazzaglia, representing Bitim Enterprises, was indeed still the owner on record.

Rattey said after the hearing that the town is now the owner of the building because it has followed all the steps necessary to acquire the property through eminent domain. What remains to be determined is the agreement on the financial settlement.

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