Court Rules in Lamoine’s Favor on Setbacks

When Lamoine’s 2013 gravel ordinance was passed by voters it included an increase of the distance (“setback”) between a gravel pit and the lot line from 50 to 100 feet. Harold MacQuinn, Inc., Doug Gott and Sons Inc. and John Goodwin Jr. and Sons, Inc. responded by insisting Lamoine form a “gravel work group” composed of citizens and gravel industry representatives to rewrite the ordinance, to avoid being sued. A group was formed; it met and forwarded recommendations to the Board of Selectmen who wrote a new version of the gravel ordinance that returned the setback to 50 feet. That proposed ordinance was rejected by Lamoine voters on November 2, 2015. As promised, the gravel companies initiated a lawsuit in Hancock County Superior Court in response, claiming “taking” from the value of their land.

On Valentine’s Day 2018, we received the news that the Superior Court ruled in the Town’s favor, saying,

The municipality is not required to pay compensation to a property owner every time it enacts an ordinance that adversely affects property interests.

It went on to explain that some actions are extreme enough on the part of government to require compensation, but in considering the particulars of this situation the ruling concluded,

Plaintiffs have failed to prove that the 2013 Gravel Ordinance is a taking requiring compensation under the Maine or U.S. Constitutions. If Plaintiffs expected to be able to extract gravel from the area described in the new setback requirements regardless of regulatory changes, that expectation was not reasonable.

See the Ellsworth American article here:

Other News: The MacQuinn Appeal

On Monday, February 12, the Lamoine Appeals Board met to consider how to hear an appeal by Harold MacQuinn, Inc for the Cousins’ Hill permit denial, as explained in the two previous posts. The Board stated that the 2011 gravel ordinance gives them the option to review the entire MacQuinn application “de novo”, (i.e. anew) rather than focusing on errors of procedure or interpretation the Planning Board might have made. However, the Board went on to decide, rather than re-studying the entire application, they would base their ruling on a “de novo” consideration of just the 2 criteria in the Gravel Ordinance and 3 in the Site Plan Review Ordinance that were denied by the Planning Board.  Because of this restriction, an additional public hearing will not occur, but individual criteria will be considered “de novo”. Consequently, more information may be submitted to them by the Town and by those with Standing before the March 12, 2018, deadline.

Standing was granted to the same interested parties (abutters and Friends of Lamoine) as for the Planning Board application, and they will be allowed to speak during the hearing. Regardless of the outcome, this case will likely end up in Hancock County Superior Court. The Appeals Board will meet next on March 26 at 6:30 and again on March 28 at 6:30. Members of the public may attend but may not speak.


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