At the March 20 Lamoine Planning Board meeting board members, led by Vice Chairman Don Bamman, made relatively quick work of the “pre-application” process for the expansion of the Kittridge Pit to include Cousins Hill in the center of Lamoine. Jacqueline Weaver of the Ellsworth American attended and wrote a lengthy article which appeared in their March 23rd edition. Apparently she did not realize that MacQuinn had purchased the property from the Miros in the period following his first application. Other than referring to mining granite, rather than gravel, and identifying John Holt as David Holt, it was an accurate, informative report.
Friends Of Lamoine had two objectives at Monday’s meeting. One was to point out that board member Richard McMullen had testified in support of the application at the first public hearing on the permit application in January of 2013, and that he “spoke of relying on the ‘bigger gravel pits’ in town to support his own business” (excerpted from town minutes of the hearing). The reason this application is a “do over” is the fact that MacQuinn’s legal team took issue with a conflict of interest they felt Chairman John Holt represented, as board member of the non-profit Cold Springs Water Company. Friends of Lamoine, while not necessarily questioning McMullen’s impartiality, felt they had a right to use the same argument against his presence on the board for the same reasons. The request for his recusal was defeated with one abstention.
Friends of Lamoine also sought to achieve “standing”, a legal term making them a party to the process, similar to possessing the rights of property abutters. In this effort they did not fail, passing 3-2 with board members Richard McMullen and Perry Fowler voting against. As a community group with standing, they will have a right to appeal the decision of the Planning Board to the Lamoine Appeals Board or in court, and a right to address the board before and after the public hearing.
Board members and Don Bamman in particular, seem to be anxious to take advantage of the fact that this application had been done before, and conclude as quickly as possible. We can expect process to advance rapidly in the next few months, with a probable public hearing in late May.