Attorney Erik Stumpfel presented his argument to the Lamoine Board of Selectmen that the Ames Family Trust should be given a fast track for a ballot measure allowing gravel mining on their property. The Ames Family Trust would like to sell their 20 acres in Lamoine to the gravel industry, thereby increasing the parcel’s value closer to the nearly $1 million listed asking price. The Town has this parcel assessed at $20,000.
Erik Stumpfel argued that because of the 2014 No New Pits amendment, the property has essentially zero value and no principal use, and is therefore unable to provide funds for the extended care of Veda Ames. It is his contention that the property was held for several decades expressly as an investment to provide for the care of Veda. He also pointed out his contention that the recent No New Pits amendment was at odds with the existing Lamoine Comprehensive Plan, which allows for gravel mining in the Rural and Agricultural Zone, which encompasses most of Lamoine. He presented the amendment as a benefit to the town since it may prevent lawsuits related to what he saw as a conflict in its laws. He also argued that the No New Pits amendment represented a “taking” of value from landowners.
Members of the audience included two members of Lamoine Planning Board and four members of Friends of Lamoine, most with questions and comments for Mr. Stumpfel.
Audience member John Holt, who serves the town as chairman of the Planning Board gave the attorney four scenarios in which Lamoine landowners or gravel operators had land they wished to open for gravel mining. In several of them, this amendment would allow new pits according to Mr. Stumpfel. Holt summed up by saying that the amendment would “free up all kinds of acreage” for gravel mining. He also countered the argument that the No New Pits law was in conflict with the Comprehensive Plan, since existing gravel pits continue to operate in the Rural and Agricultural Zone, and are allowed to renew their permits.
FOL member Carol Korty stated that the property had been given to the Ames family as an inheritance. Her Aunt Eunice, widow of Maynard Young, willed it to Maynard’s nephew Robert Ames so that it could stay in the Young family. Korty remembered Maynard having been terribly upset years ago when the property was improperly clear cut of timber and said she felt sure both Eunice and Maynard would be equally upset to see it mined for gravel now. FOL member Catherine de Tuede mentioned that she cared for Veda Ames, and how upset Veda was at the news that MacQuinn Inc. had plans to mine gravel from Miro Hill. Other audience members expressed doubt that the property had no other uses, or that changing laws took value unfairly away from individuals. They gave the various Shoreland Zone laws as examples of regulations that while impacting individuals, are important to protect the entire town’s health and natural resources.
The members of the Board of Selectmen were unwilling to move forward on this measure. The wording of this proposed amendment to the Building and Land Use Ordinance (BLUO) was, according to Chairman Gary McFarland, “not clear enough” and could possibly enable many other Lamoine landowners to open new pits. The Ames Trust’s attorneys may return with a re-written proposal or may collect petition signatures from Lamoine voters on their own. Board member Bernie Johnson asked Mr. Stempfel, given the No New Pits amendment vote of 450 yes to 268 no, if he really expected the measure had a chance of passing.
If a claim is made based on financial need, why is full, perhaps confidential, disclosure of financial circumstances not required?
I keep a few hundred dollars in a bank account in Ellsworth. Do you suppose I could apply for assistance from the town based on that information only?