On Tuesday, March 8, 427 voters in Lamoine turned up to cast their ballots for the two open positions for Selectmen. Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon stated that the turnout was double the norm for a Town Meeting election.
Voters made up their minds with the help of hundreds of lawn signs, an Ellsworth American article, two mailings: one each from Bob Christie and Kathleen Rybarz, but no candidate forums. Windy weather played havoc with the signs, but unlike the November vote, little vandalism occurred. The new Selectboard lineup appeared on the town website in two days:
Outgoing Selectman Nate Mason in an Ellsworth American article attributed part of the change to the efforts of “…different groups in town that put boots on the ground to drum up support to get candidates in who support more restrictions on gravel.”
At the first meeting of the new Selectboard, members voted to keep Gary McFarland as chairman. Selectboard agenda items in the next month or so include deciding on enforcement actions regarding the placement of a new home too close to Douglas Highway by Broughman Builders. Further down the road the Board will face decisions on what to recommend and when to schedule town votes on trash disposal options, school funding and adoption of revised floodplain maps.
Still important but less immediate is the looming lawsuit against the town by the Goodman, MacQuinn and Gott gravel companies. The gravel operators regard the 2013/2014 revisions of Lamoine’s gravel ordinance as a “regulatory taking” of value because the new ordinance increased the setbacks to 100 feet from the former 50 feet. The old Selectboard’s attempt at compromise was rejected by voters in 2015. The new Selectboard is more likely to allow this matter to be settled in court.
The other legal challenge against Lamoine, by gravel operator Harold MacQuinn, Inc., regards some members of the Lamoine Planning Board and whether there is a conflict of interest. When this is resolved MacQuinn will likely appeal the denial of a permit for the removal of Cousin’s or Miro’s Hill near the town center. Again, our Board of Selectmen will wait for the outcome in court and then in our Lamoine Board of Appeals.