Jamie James is one of 10 long-term residents of the Majestic Regency Resort in Wells facing eviction. A York County judge granted a restraining order filed Monday by Pine Tree Legal Assistance. The nonprofit also filed a lawsuit on behalf of the residents, whose rents have been paid through a rent relief program. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Since the Springvale building where she rented an apartment for three years was sold, Jamie James has learned to take things one day at a time.

She focuses on her three kids and her job. She applies for new rental units – more than 50 so far. And then some days she thinks about where she’ll store her belongings if she has to leave the motel in Wells where she has stayed for the past year.

Last week, James was one of at least 10 people staying at the Majestic Regency Resort in Wells who were told they had days to move out or face arrest.

“They say there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel collapsed on me,” she said. “The reality is there’s nowhere to go.”

On Monday, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income Mainers, filed lawsuits and requests for a temporary restraining order on behalf of James and nine other renters in York County Superior Court to try to stop the motel from forcing them to leave. The complaints contend that the evictions are illegal and discriminate against people receiving public assistance.

The 10 renters’ rooms at the Route 1 motel have been paid for through a rent relief program designed to help people stay in or secure housing during the pandemic.


Later on Monday, Justice Wayne Douglas granted the request for a temporary restraining order in each of the 10 cases that prevents the motel from evicting the tenants. The judge said in his ruling that the threat of homelessness posed an irreparable threat to tenants and that the argument that the motel is violating the Maine Human Rights Act may succeed in court.

The temporary restraining orders will be in place until a hearing is held on the complaints.

The legal filing and ruling come nearly a week after Wells selectmen discussed the Majestic Regency and two other motels at a public hearing. Board members said during the hearing that the motels were violating a local land use ordinance that says motels and hotels can only rent rooms to people for up to 28 days.

An attorney for Blue Diamond Management LLC, which owns the Majestic Regency Resort, said at the hearing that the company intended to notify people who had been at the motel for more than 28 days that they either had to leave by Saturday or would be arrested by Wells police.

Wells selectmen have been considering whether to renew the lodging licenses of three motels – the Majestic Regency, USA Inn and Ne’r Beach. Officials say they are concerned about the number of times police have been called to the motels since late 2021 and about alleged crimes associated with people staying at or visiting the motels.



Police responded to the three motels 177 times from December to April for calls that ranged from requests to assist a citizen to theft to domestic violence, Chief Jo-Ann Putnam said, and 53 of those calls were to the Majestic Regency.

“Our organization is extremely concerned about all of the chaos and disorder we have seen over these past months and the resulting havoc and turmoil that our town services and businesses have had to endure,” Eleanor Vadnais, president of the Wells Chamber of Commerce, told selectmen during a May 17 public hearing on the motel licenses.

Ten long-term residents of the Majestic Regency Resort in Wells facing eviction are being represented by Pine Tree Legal Assistance, which filed a complaint and requested a temporary restraining order in York County Superior Court on behalf of the ten residents, whose rents have been paid through a rent relief program. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Her concern about the “turmoil” was echoed by both board members and several community members during the meeting.

Selectmen are expected to consider whether to renew the lodging licenses on June 7.

Attorney Julien Guerard, who represents the owner of the Majestic Regency, told selectmen that his client has been working with police to address concerns and intends to close the motel from this October to April 2023. He said the owner planned to take steps “to remove long-term tenants of this facility.”

Last Wednesday, the 10 residents represented by Pine Tree Legal were given notices that they had to be out of the motel by Saturday.


The people who received those notices have been staying at the Majestic Regency because they don’t have any other options for housing during an unprecedented housing crisis in the area, said Katherine McGovern, Pine Tree Legal’s managing attorney.

“It’s terrifying to suddenly be told you have to leave in a couple days and that the police are going to come arrest you if you don’t come out,” she said. “They have their lives in these rooms.”

McGovern said her clients include someone who is 80, parents with children as young as 1 and 3, and people with disabilities. If they are forced to leave, they likely will be homeless, she said.

The Majestic Regency does not provide these renters with typical hotel amenities, including continental breakfast offered to guests during the summer or laundry and cleaning services, McGovern said. Because these people have been staying at the Majestic Regency between two months and nine years, they have a landlord-tenant relationship with the owner, she said.


McGovern said her clients are tenants at will and entitled to the eviction process outlined in state law. That process requires a longer notice period and an opportunity for tenants to defend their situation in court. The clients’ rent has been paid through May 31 by York County Communication Action Corp., the agency that administers the rent relief program.


James, 39, first moved into a cottage at the Majestic Regency last June and took a part-time job at the motel cleaning rooms and doing laundry. She paid $150 a week for the cottage, which is typically used for seasonal workers, but had to move into a regular room in October when it got too cold.

Unable to afford the daily rate of $150 on her part-time pay and the disability payments she receives for being legally blind, James started receiving rental assistance through York County Community Action Corp. Without that aid, she said, she’d be homeless.

James understands the frustration in town over the number of police calls to local motels, but said many of the people staying at the motel are not involved in illegal activity.

As she talked about her situation on Monday afternoon, a young girl played outside a nearby room and guests walked their dogs on the neatly trimmed lawn.

“People have this stigma with homelessness where they think if you’re homeless you did something wrong,” James said. “There are a lot of us who did everything right.”

The complaints filed Monday, one for each tenant, asked the judge to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the motel owner from denying the plaintiffs access to their rooms and property. It also asked the court to formally rescind the notice of trespass the motel residents were served on May 18.


The complaints allege that the motel owner engaged in business practices “that are unfair and deceptive in the trade of a landlord” and that the owner inflicted emotional distress on the plaintiffs.


The complaints also allege that the motel owner is discriminating against plaintiffs who are receiving public assistance to pay for housing.  The Maine Human Rights Act makes it unlawful for “any person furnishing rental premises or public accommodations to refuse to rent or impose different terms of tenancy to any individual who is a recipient of federal, state or local public assistance … primarily because of an individual’s status as a recipient,” the complaints state.

“During the board meeting on May 17, public commenters called for the defendant and other local lodging facilities to remove long-term residents, most or all of whom are ERA recipients, and suggested that such individuals were causing ‘mayhem’ and ‘torpedoing’ the town’s reputation,” the complaints state.

A manager who answered the phone at the Majestic Regency on Monday said he could not comment on the court action. Messages seeking interviews with the owner and his attorney were not returned Monday.

Sean Roche, chair of the board of selectmen, said the town’s ordinances stipulate that lodging facilities can not be used as residences.

“The town’s ordinances make it clear that all lodging facilities in the town, including motels, are intended for short-term occupancy by the traveling public and may not be used as residences. We have an obligation to make sure lodging facilities are following both the town’s ordinances and their licensing requirements,” he said in a statement. “Additionally, it is our understanding that under state statutes, hotels, motels and inns are not subject to landlord/tenant laws.”

McGovern, however, says it is important to recognize that the town’s licensing rules are a separate legal issue than the motel’s actions toward the people it has been housing.

The motel has been receiving large amounts of money from the emergency rental assistance program and to suddenly stop is “especially outrageous,” she said.

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