MacQuinn’s new proposal for Cousins Hill

Harold MacQuinn, Inc. presented an unusual proposal to Lamoine Planning Board for consideration on their May 2nd meeting.  Friends of Lamoine attended the session to hear the details.  Here is what we understood to have transpired.  Turns out it was a “feeler” proposal – namely something to test how the Board would respond.  Board members found it too incomplete in many required areas to be formally considered.  Steve Salsbury, MacQuinn’s surveyor, said he’d be unable to complete the required paperwork earlier than for their meeting on July 11th.  That gave us time to mull over what was there:

On acreage which MacQuinn may not extract gravel – thanks to our law suit and the Maine Supreme Court’s decision in our favor –the company proposes an 11 lot subdivision.  It did not specify the nature of the lots.  That specification was not required because according to our ordinance, a subdivision may be for housing, businesses, or a mixture of both. This means anyone purchasing one of the lots in this proposed development could apply to the Planning Board for any use permitted in the Rural and Agricultural Zone.  There could potentially be a mixture of housing, farming or light commercial businesses on the top of Cousins Hill.

The proposed lots are large: the first four are each 4 acres lots; the next four are each 5 acre lots; Lot 9 has 6 acres and Lot 10 is extremely large with 42 acres.  The first nine progress from Douglas Highway to the top of the hill with their southern border alongside Cold Spring Water Company’s land. Lot 10’s 42 acres are on the northeast side of the subdivision.  While there is no Lot 11 on the map, Salsbury mentioned it might be carved out of Lot 10.

Houses on the high lots overlooking Frenchman Bay and its mountains would be great atop Lamoine’s highest hill.  At least we think so.  But there are a few problems.  The proposed road to them from Douglas H’way below is VERY steep.  It would ascend straight up from the road to the highest point of Cousins Hill between the huge, existing pit on the north side that MacQuinn is currently mining, and the row of nine lots.  No road connecting with lot 10 was indicated on the proposed map, though there is a designated Right of Way.  John Holt, PB chair, pointed out that a much wider setback, namely 100 ‘, must exist between an active pit and a proposed road or adjacent properties.

FOL is concerned about the kind of excavation needed to bring the access road or roads to the required grade for a subdivision.  And, if mitigating the steep grade involved removing more than 500 cubic yards of gravel, the maximum limit without a gravel mining permit, the court order would prohibit a permit for that.

MacQuinn might be able to circumvent that requirement by advertising the lots for adventuresome folks who prefer using all terrain vehicles rather than cars, farmers raising alpine goats, or sports fans erecting a Zip line.  FOL wondered if the road might instead be laid in a winding, gradual ascent.  However, even with a winding ascent and a setback of 100’ from the existing active gravel pit, some people might find being that close to mining 12 hours a day, 6 days a week annoying — for a home or even some businesses.  Since the proposal doesn’t restrict the lots to residential usage, would home owners enjoy having a restaurant or farm animals on lots adjacent to them?

We eagerly await details of the revised application.  If it is found “complete”, we’ll be sure to go on the required Site Visit – to which anyone may attend – prior to the Planning Board’s later deliberation on whether it passes the requirements of our existing Building and Land Use Ordinance section on Sub-Divisions.  We’ll keep posting developments and we welcome suggestions you might have about uses and restrictions on this large tract of land owned by MacQuinn.

Why, oh why, didn’t Lamoiners smarten up decades ago to buy this wonderful hill?  We all could have enjoyed a park there with magnificent views of MDI, Frenchman Bay to the West and expansive fields and hills to the East.  Just because the Cousins family and subsequently the Cranes and the Miros allowed people to walk up, to picnic up there was no guarantee the next owner would have been so benign.

April Public Hearing Postponed

Lamoine Planning Board had to cancel Monday evening’s Public Hearing due to a loss of wifi for all Spectrum users, making zoom participation impossible. The Hearing has been postponed to 6:30 PM, Monday, May 3rd, prior to PB’s next monthly meeting. Any significant developments will be posted here.

New Activity on Cousins Hill

Harold MacQuinn, Inc. recently submitted a renewal application for the Kittredge pit next to Cousins Hill 1-½ year early.  The application is for a continued mining permit and for permission to create a new “haul road” which would involve removal of significant amounts of gravel. You can look through the application by clicking on the link above to read it on the Town’s website. The map on page 166 shows this new road.

The Planning Board, in their March 1st meeting, decided to consider the two aspects of this recent application separately since they involve two different issues, and because the “haul road” is proposed for an area needing to first pass a Site Plan Review.

After the initial review of the application for the renewed gravel mining permit, the Planning Board scheduled and held a site walk on March 16. A Public Hearing  (via zoom) regarding this application is scheduled for Monday, April 5, at 6:30 pm, prior to the PB’s monthly April meeting.  Friends of Lamoine is preparing a statement listing several concerns and recommendations to present at the Public Hearing .

Anyone may watch the Hearing on the Town’s cable channel on Monday at 6:30 or when Stu later replays it, or the meeting can be seen anonymously at any time. You may also request participating in or viewing the Hearing via zoom by contacting Town Hall (667-2242 or to request the link.  You may always contact the Planning Board ( to express your opinion(s) and/or to submit testimony for any Public Hearing.  However for your opinion to be considered during subsequent deliberations on any application, submissions must be made at or prior to the Public Hearing about that application.

The Planning Board will probably address the application for the “haul road” at their May 3 meeting.  If so, a site walk and Public Hearing would be scheduled at that time.

Survey Results

As most readers of this web site know, the main objective of Friends of Lamoine for the last six years has been to give voice to Lamoiners wanting a broad emphasis on preserving Lamoine’s natural resources and beauty.  After successfully promoting a referendum to limit any further expansion of unpermitted gravel mining, we turned our efforts to preventing Harold MacQuinn, Inc. from removing gravel comprising the rest of Cousins Hill at Lamoine Corner. FOL went to court to reverse Lamoine Board of Appeals’ order to the Planning Board to issue MacQuinn a mining permit.  Our case was twice heard in Business Court, and finally in May, 2020, the Maine Supreme Court ruled in our favor, supporting the Planning Board’s original denial of a mining permit. The protracted legal proceedings were expensive and could not have happened without generous donations from our supporters.

Buoyed by winning our case, the question then became: what do we do now? Disband or continue?  And, if continue, with what projects? These questions led us to create a survey to determine the will of our supporters, and just as importantly, whether they would continue to support the effort financially.  In late November, 2020, we sent them a three page questionaire. The results were encouraging — 37% of those receiving the questionaire responded in detail.  (The average return rate is 10% for surveys.) Respondents rejected the idea of disbanding, thereby agreeing to continue to fund the efforts of Friends of Lamoine.

By far the most important take-away from the survey was for FOL to protect the aquifer, which lies under the glacial formation of gravel in Lamoine. This mirrored the high priority given it in Lamoine’s recently re-written Comprehensive Plan.  There were many ideas for how to do this.  If you would like to work with Friends of Lamoine — in addition to reading our web site — please let us know by e-mailing Fortunately we’ve learned, in this age of Zoom, that we can work remotely – whether from our home in Lamoine or anywhere else in the country!  We look forward to hearing from you.

End of an Era

On Tuesday, October 27, 2020, the Lamoine Board of Appeals signed a document officially acknowledging the Maine Supreme Court verdict rejecting the Appeals Board’s overturning of the Planning Board’s decision to deny the gravel permit for mining the rest of Cousins Hill at Lamoine Corner. According to their November 9, 2020 meeting agenda, the Lamoine Planning Board will consider a revocation of one of the two permits (site plan, “SPRO”) they were compelled to approve by the Appeals Board. They may also vote to ask the Code Enforcement Officer to prepare a statement of whether any restoration should happen due to illegal extraction which may have taken place during the time of the various appeals. This means the 7 year effort to prevent Harold MacQuinn, Inc. from removing Cousins Hill is over, and the hill will remain.

At the Appeals Board meeting, the board members signed the document but insisted on Lamoine’s Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon adding a sentence indicating the Board’s displeasure with having to see their decision reversed. We have not seen that version.

Meanwhile, the group responsible for opposing the permits and later for bringing the lawsuit, Friends of Lamoine (FOL) is about to send a questionnaire to its donors asking about future plans for the group now that this battle is over. We will be sending the survey via SurveyMonkey on or about November 12 to those for whom we have email addresses. A printed paper survey will go out to others. It is very important to hear back from our supporters; we will use the results to decide our future. Only donors will receive the survey but it will be open to all members of the donor’s household. We look forward to hearing from you.

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