Cousin’s Hill Lawsuit Settlement: Do Over

At the December 5, 2016 Lamoine Planning Board meeting, Chairman John Holt announced that a settlement was reached between the Town of Lamoine and Harold MacQuinn, Inc., regarding the lawsuit brought by MacQuinn against the town, alleging bias in the denial of an expansion of the Kittridge Pit on May 13, 2014. The area of expansion is very close to Lamoine Corner, the school, church and cemetery, and is what is known as Cousin’s or Miro’s Hill. The Planning Board denied the permit on the basis of adverse impact to the landscape and incompatibility with the Comprehensive Plan. Chairman John Holt said,

While it would be a stretch to assert that this hill is to Lamoine what Blue Hill is to that community or Tucker Mountain is to Sullivan, I do consider it a unique natural feature which is an integral part of Lamoine’s sand and gravel aquifer geology and I am opposed to efforts to further destroy it by expanding extraction on the remaining portions of the hill.

I cannot, in good conscience, find that this application meets this review standard.

Cousin’s Hill

MacQuinn alleges that John Holt showed bias because of his position as treasurer and licensed operator of the Cold Springs Water Company, a consumer co-op, which draws its water from the aquifer under the proposed expanded pit, and provides water to many homes in the area. Chairman Holt went on to say,

For all these [60 nearby] residents, the proposed gravel operations would add yet another layer of noise to that already generated by the substantial gravel truck traffic which passes by their homes and neighborhoods on the way to other gravel pits further down Lamoine Beach Road. The Board has received much verbal and written testimony with regards to the adverse impact on the quality of life, including statements about the harmful impacts on property values.

The area of town where the gravel operations are proposed is the most densely populated area of town. I think it wrong to permit such a large scale gravel operation in that setting.

Proposed pit expansion outlined in black, from Google Earth

The proposed settlement is simply a “do over” of the application process without John Holt as chairman and voting member. Because the original application was made in 2012, Lamoine’s old 2011 Gravel Ordinance will be in effect, allowing 50 foot setbacks to adjoining lots, rather than the 100 feet our new ordinance requires.

MacQuinn’s initial approach was to initiate an appeal to Lamoine’s Board of Appeals, but the board decided on July 14, 2014 to await the results of the bias lawsuit. The settlement does not hand the decision to the Board of Appeals, which reversed the Planning Board’s Gott garage denial in June of 2014. However, it is likely that the Appeal’s Board will once again hear an appeal if the Planning Board denies MacQuinn’s new application.

With a new “No New Pits” law on the books and other recent changes in town government, the public hearing for this application is likely to be a spirited affair. It will take many months before a decision is rendered. The first step is up to MacQuinn.  He will have to submit an entirely new application since conditions have changed since his initial application, even though it is the 2011 Gravel Ordinance with which it must be in compliance.

3 Comments

  1. Antonio Blasi December 7, 2016 9:23 am Reply

    Thanks for the update!

  2. Valerie Marshall December 7, 2016 9:44 am Reply

    How can there be a conflict of interest between a for-profit business and a not-for-profit business? That Lamoine could even consider the possible compromise of a major aquifer is unthinkable.

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