Harold MacQuinn, Inc. presented an unusual proposal to Lamoine Planning Board for consideration on their May 2nd meeting. Friends of Lamoine attended the session to hear the details. Here is what we understood to have transpired. Turns out it was a “feeler” proposal – namely something to test how the Board would respond. Board members found it too incomplete in many required areas to be formally considered. Steve Salsbury, MacQuinn’s surveyor, said he’d be unable to complete the required paperwork earlier than for their meeting on July 11th. That gave us time to mull over what was there:
On acreage which MacQuinn may not extract gravel – thanks to our law suit and the Maine Supreme Court’s decision in our favor –the company proposes an 11 lot subdivision. It did not specify the nature of the lots. That specification was not required because according to our ordinance, a subdivision may be for housing, businesses, or a mixture of both. This means anyone purchasing one of the lots in this proposed development could apply to the Planning Board for any use permitted in the Rural and Agricultural Zone. There could potentially be a mixture of housing, farming or light commercial businesses on the top of Cousins Hill.
The proposed lots are large: the first four are each 4 acres lots; the next four are each 5 acre lots; Lot 9 has 6 acres and Lot 10 is extremely large with 42 acres. The first nine progress from Douglas Highway to the top of the hill with their southern border alongside Cold Spring Water Company’s land. Lot 10’s 42 acres are on the northeast side of the subdivision. While there is no Lot 11 on the map, Salsbury mentioned it might be carved out of Lot 10.
Houses on the high lots overlooking Frenchman Bay and its mountains would be great atop Lamoine’s highest hill. At least we think so. But there are a few problems. The proposed road to them from Douglas H’way below is VERY steep. It would ascend straight up from the road to the highest point of Cousins Hill between the huge, existing pit on the north side that MacQuinn is currently mining, and the row of nine lots. No road connecting with lot 10 was indicated on the proposed map, though there is a designated Right of Way. John Holt, PB chair, pointed out that a much wider setback, namely 100 ‘, must exist between an active pit and a proposed road or adjacent properties.
FOL is concerned about the kind of excavation needed to bring the access road or roads to the required grade for a subdivision. And, if mitigating the steep grade involved removing more than 500 cubic yards of gravel, the maximum limit without a gravel mining permit, the court order would prohibit a permit for that.
MacQuinn might be able to circumvent that requirement by advertising the lots for adventuresome folks who prefer using all terrain vehicles rather than cars, farmers raising alpine goats, or sports fans erecting a Zip line. FOL wondered if the road might instead be laid in a winding, gradual ascent. However, even with a winding ascent and a setback of 100’ from the existing active gravel pit, some people might find being that close to mining 12 hours a day, 6 days a week annoying — for a home or even some businesses. Since the proposal doesn’t restrict the lots to residential usage, would home owners enjoy having a restaurant or farm animals on lots adjacent to them?
We eagerly await details of the revised application. If it is found “complete”, we’ll be sure to go on the required Site Visit – to which anyone may attend – prior to the Planning Board’s later deliberation on whether it passes the requirements of our existing Building and Land Use Ordinance section on Sub-Divisions. We’ll keep posting developments and we welcome suggestions you might have about uses and restrictions on this large tract of land owned by MacQuinn.
Why, oh why, didn’t Lamoiners smarten up decades ago to buy this wonderful hill? We all could have enjoyed a park there with magnificent views of MDI, Frenchman Bay to the West and expansive fields and hills to the East. Just because the Cousins family and subsequently the Cranes and the Miros allowed people to walk up, to picnic up there was no guarantee the next owner would have been so benign.