RUMFORD — Rumford resident and businessman Ron Theriault was ecstatic early Wednesday evening.

He’d just learned that Oxford County Superior Court Justice Robert Clifford granted the injunction — in part — that Theriault sought to either prevent a revote next week on funding for Black Mountain ski resort or bump it off the welfare budget ballot and into a separate town business-meeting warrant next month.

“The judge granted my injunction. It’s going to go separately,” Theriault said of the 90-minute teleconference call late Wednesday afternoon between Clifford, himself and Rumford town attorney Thomas Carey. “This proves that the system works.”

On Aug. 11, Theriault filed the injunction in the Oxford County Superior Court to block a revote on Black Mountain’s request for $51,000 in funding.

The revote, which was initiated by petition, and the Board of Selectmen’s third straight attempt to get voters to approve a Welfare Budget, were scheduled for town meeting-style balloting from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27.

A majority of voters at the annual town meeting in June did not raise money for welfare or Black Mountain. The warrant articles approved by selectmen on Aug. 12 list $35,000 for a Welfare Budget and $51,000 for Black Mountain.

The injunction was filed by Alan T. Gerace, Paul Lowell, former Selectman Frank R. DiConzo, Selectman Mark N. Belanger, and Theriault, with Theriault acting as the group’s lawyer.

The five men based their legal action on the belief that Rumford violated its charter by allowing a revote on a petition-initiated article.

At the June 8 town meeting, 657 residents voted to not give Black Mountain any money; 420 voted to give it $56,700, and 637 voted to give it $51,000.

Black Mountain officials contend that people wanted to fund the resort, but were split on the amount, so they circulated a petition to bring it up for another vote.

Theriault’s argument was that the Town Charter states that if neither amount recommended by selectmen and the Finance Committee is approved by the majority of voters, the article is “defeated and the amount appropriated will be zero.”

He also argued that organizations whose initiated-article requests for donations that a voting majority denies, should not be able to circumvent the process and petition for a revote.

After a majority of the board twice voted to deny scheduling a special town meeting revote on the Rumford ski hill’s request, Black Mountain sought and got the necessary signatures on a petition, bypassing the board’s wishes and forcing its way onto the Aug. 27 ballot.

Black Mountain claimed publicly that if it didn’t get the funding it would have to close, thereby meeting the “critical circumstance” clause in the charter that directs selectmen to convene a special town meeting.

“Ron made a pretty good pitch,” town attorney Carey said Wednesday evening of the teleconference call. “Justice Clifford felt that there should be a formal meeting, which is typically described as the business portion of a town meeting where a moderator opens the meeting and allows for formal discussion.”

Following the debate, Carey said the moderator would then adjourn the meeting to Rumford’s Australian ballot-style of town meeting voting.

“The judge denied Ron’s request to exclude the revote from public vote,” he said. “Ron argued that there was a defect in their petition, but the judge didn’t buy that. The ski resort followed the right protocol in the charter. Judges are very sensitive to due process.”

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said the injunction means the town will have to spend roughly $2,000 to implement the judge’s decision. Legal fees are included in that figure.

“This is an extra expense, but it’s part of new legislation meeting old legislation,” he said. “To me, the important thing about the petition process, is that the judge agreed with the town attorney’s opinion. The biggest thing (Theriault’s group was) saying was that Black Mountain didn’t have the right to petition, but they do.”

And that was good news for Roger Arsenault, president of Black Mountain’s Board of Directors.

“Obviously, we’d be happy to put it behind us, but at least we have a ruling now and we know what the process is,” Arsenault said late Wednesday night.

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