In the September 10 Selectboard meeting, the decision was made to schedule the vote for November 3, and to include in the new proposed ordinance the rollback of setbacks to 50 feet for existing (site-plan permitted prior to March 13, 2013) pits, with the potential setback to 10 feet, with abutter’s written approval. Earlier discussions indicated the possibility that the rollback of setbacks would be a separate amendment. Not so now. Our current ordinance passed in 2013 and amended in 2014, established setbacks to neighboring owners’ lot lines at 100 feet with reduction to 50 feet possible with written permission. The proposed ordinance maintains 100 feet for new pits, but the rollback to 50 feet now does not need abutter’s permission, and the rollback to 10 feet, accommodates a main demand of the gravel industry. A few minor changes apply, such as the slope of the first 40 feet (closest to property line) will be limited to 3.5:1, and the next 50 feet, 2.5:1.
Besides the setback issue, there are several other big changes in the new proposed ordinance. They are:
1) New, larger amount of gravel allowed to be taken without needing a permit,
2) No more escrow fund for restoration,
3) Gravel permits may be granted for up to 5 years instead of 3,
4) No more requirements for water level or quality data “up front” with permit application, and
5) No stated penalty for lack of restoration funds.
1) New, larger amount of gravel allowed to be taken from an acre or less without needing a permit. The old amount which triggered a permit was 500 cubic yards, or about 33 15-yard dump truck loads. The new threshold is 1000 yards. Both the Planning Board and Selectboard claim this limit is for the “lifetime” of the property, but the text does not explicitly state this*. No plan was offered for keeping track of such a removal since no paperwork would be generated.
2) No more escrow fund for restoration. Collecting the five cents per yard of gravel was a difficult task and required a great deal of accounting for a small amount of money, according to our town government, so they arrived at a new solution. First, the gravel permit applicant will estimate the cost of restoration up front and will show evidence of 1) a performance bond, 2) a bank’s letter of credit or 3) a joint savings account with the town of Lamoine.
3) Gravel permits may be granted for up to 5 years instead of 3. This, according to town officials, will ease the work burden on the Planning Board as well as lighten the financial strain on the gravel industry. Since permits could be good for 5 years, during the lifetime of these permits the gravel operators would be immune from any ordinance changes adopted by town voters.
4) No more requirements for water level or quality data “up front” with permit application. This is mostly a timing issue and only means that instead of the monitoring wells being installed prior to the permit being granted, as Lamoine voters approved in 2013, they can be installed after. Nonetheless, data from the wells must be submitted before gravel operations can begin.
5) No stated penalty for lack of restoration funds. Our current ordinance says, (8.D.3.d. and f.)
The permit holder is liable for all additional costs associated with reclamation if the accumulated funds available are insufficient to cover the actual costs of reclamation.
Should the owner/operator fail to complete required Restoration work, a lien in an amount three times the estimated cost to complete required Restoration shall be recorded against the Parcel.
The proposed ordinance makes no such provision for lack of restoration or funds with which to do it if the owner/operator disappears or refuses to restore. The proposed ordinance however does allow the town to enter the property for the purposes of restoration.
There are several other features of this proposed ordinance that are changes from the current Gravel Ordinance. Our intent is to alert Lamoine voters to changes we consider most significant. Everyone, of course, is urged to make their own comparisons between the Board of Selectmen’s proposed ordinance and the existing one.
Draft 11.2 is almost the final version. *A newer version will result from changes adopted at Thursday’s (9/24/2015) meeting. When it becomes available please watch here for updates.
Both Draft 11.2, integrating the formerly separate setback amendment as well as our current ordinance can be downloaded in pdf format by clicking, and we encourage all to read them!