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 https://townhallstreams.com/towns/lamoine_me any time. You may also request participating in or viewing the Hearing via zoom by contacting Town Hall (667-2242 or town@lamoine-me.gov) to request the link.  You may always contact the Planning Board (planning_board@lamoine.gov) 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 friendsoflamoine@gmail.com. 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.

High Court Rejects MacQuinn’s 3 Motions

On July 1, 2020, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court denied the two motions for reconsideration filed by the MacQuinn legal team on June 1 and 5:

These two motions were in response to the Supreme Court decision on May 19 reaffirming the lower court’s ruling in favor of preventing gravel mining of Lamoine’s Cousins Hill.

On June 16, MacQuinn’s team also filed a “motion to permit trial court action” against Don Bamman who was quoted in the Ellsworth American article of June 4. Don was acting Planning Board chairman during the application process. MacQuinn’s motion claims that Bamman’s quote showed bias, but in order to pursue this matter in Maine Business and Consumer Court, MacQuinn must receive permission from the Supreme Court to proceed.

On July 1, the court also rejected this latest move, saying,

FOL has been told by their lawyer that unless MacQuinn’s legal team can come up with some other way to keep the case alive, there are no more court avenues possible.  It is our understanding that there are now to be actions by the Appeals Board and the Planning Board.  Watch this space for new information.

 

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