At the January 14 meeting, Board of Selectmen chair Gary McFarland proposed some ideas for re-visiting the issue of the reduction of gravel pit setbacks, allowing for a narrower strip between pits and neighbors. He thought a new amendment could possibly be ready for March’s Town Meeting. Friends of Lamoine saw this on the agenda and made sure they had a strong presence in the audience. After the voters of Lamoine rejected the changes to setbacks and other issues in the Board’s proposed ordinance last fall (69% to 31%), FOL was incredulous that our Selectmen might try again to advance this change, a favorite of the gravel industry. As gravel industry surveyor Steve Salsbury said in a memo last June:
The first question from FOL audience members was to be, “Why?” Why does the chairman feel he has to revisit this issue when it was the main reason the proposed ordinance was so soundly defeated? Even the latest issue of the Lamoine Quarterly states: “…the reduced setback proposal appeared to be the major reason for opposition.”
McFarland’s memo, written by Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon proposed:
In exchange presumably, pit operators would be allowed to expand and excavate the area between 100 feet and 50 feet of the property line.
As it turned out, audience members would have no reason to speak. With the first mention of his plan, other board members voiced their reluctance to re-visit, one by one. Jo Cooper said she was doubtful that time should be spent on the issue, and anything they proposed would be regarded by voters with suspicion. Bernie Johnson mentioned that the opponents of November’s ordinance wanted nothing to do with the reduction of setbacks, forsaking the other provisions which would have improved the ordinance. Nate Mason said there were other parts of the failed ordinance which were problematic, like increasing permit lifetimes from 3 to 5 years, and allowing 1000 cubic yards of gravel to be removed without a permit. He expressed hope that the Planning Board would take up the challenge of amending the gravel ordinance, and mentioned his desire to see more areas reclaimed. Board member Heather Fowler remained silent. Watch the meeting here. Action starts at 8:21:30 PM.
With an abrupt subject change to the increase in Town Report printing costs, the subject was dropped. Audience member John Holt had to ask what just happened, chairman McFarland replied the board took “no action” on the issue. It appears there will be no amendment to be voted upon at the Town Meeting which would reduce pit setbacks.