No Site Plan Permit for Cousins’ Hill

Cousins’ Hill from golf course, April 2017

At the December 11, 2017 Lamoine Special Planning Board meeting, members voted to deny the site plan review permit to Harold MacQuinn, Inc. The gravel permit was similarly denied on November 14. The need for two permits from the town for a gravel pit is a unique feature of the ordinances as they existed in 2012. The Planning Board had to use the old rules to consider this application, as explained in http://lamoine.org/cousins-hill-lawsuit-settlement-do-over.

Board members present were Don Bamman (acting chairman), David Legere and Richard McMullen, missing were Chris Tadema-Weilandt and Perry Fowler. Alternate Steven Gabel-Richards was given voting privileges due to the absences. The site plan review permit was denied on three criteria of the 20 and one of the 6 Special Review Standards:

1. Preserve and Enhance the Landscape. Acting chairman Don Bamman began this discussion by paraphrasing the Purpose of the ordinance, which speaks of the balance between the rights of the landowner with those of abutting property owners. His memory of the Public Hearing was that many nearby residents did not feel that a gravel pit should be so close to the densest part of Lamoine. He did concede however, that a gravel pit cannot be expected to “enhance the landscape”. Member David Legere pointed out that with a poor record on restoration, the applicant may never return the land to an acceptable, let alone preserved, landscape. The application failed to meet the criterion in a vote of 1 to 3 with Richard McMullen voting in favor.

10. Groundwater Protection. This criterion mirrors the third gravel permit criterion which failed at the November 14 meeting. Members voiced the possible threat to the Cold Spring Water Company and said that damage to the aquifer and water source “cannot be undone”. The board voted 3-1 that the application failed to meet this criterion, with McMullen again voting in favor.

17. Stormwater Drainage. By a vote of 1 to 3, with Richard McMullen again the sole vote in favor, the board extended their concerns over water protection to include the belief that the applicant failed to provide a way to prevent stormwater from threatening contamination of the aquifer.

Section K. 3. All applicable standards of the Lamoine Gravel Ordinance, as amended, shall also be met. Since the gravel permit was denied, this Site Plan Review Permit criterion was also deemed unmet by a vote of 1-3 with McMullen once again voting in favor.

With two permits denied two times, one pair in 2014 and another in 2017, it would seem the Town of Lamoine and its two Planning Boards have rendered a solid judgment. It is not likely however, that the MacQuinn team will accept this outcome. First in line is an appeal to the Lamoine Board of Appeals. This is problematic because while the Planning Board was compelled to use the 2012 versions of the Lamoine Gravel Ordinance and Site Plan Review Ordinance, there is no such agreement to use our old ordinances before the Appeals Board. Next stop for appeal is the Hancock County Superior Court. MacQuinn, Inc. has shown a willingness to go to court in recent history for denied permits and unfavorable ordinance changes. The goal to extract the gravel under Cousins’ Hill is likely to be pursued, and the legal costs to Lamoine will possibly overshadow any tax benefits from a new pit.

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