The Lamoine Planning Board Public Hearing on September 27 for the permit applications for MacQuinn’s removal of Cousins’ Hill was well attended, approximately 65 people were in the audience. Seated at the front at tables were town attorney Daniel Pileggi and 5 members of Lamoine’s Planning Board, and the MacQuinn team at the side tables.
MacQuinn, Inc. took up most of the time going over their checklist and telling us why they believed they had met all the requirements for approval of both the gravel permit and the site plan review permit. They also criticized parts of our ordinances they felt were vague, and how they would challenge a denial based on “aesthetics”. After their checklist and ordinance critique were finished, questions (but not comments) were accepted from the audience. Several hours had already passed but the public made the best of what time they had. One person asked point blank if Cousins’ Hill would be totally removed. The answer was yes, and the pit would drop 60 feet below Douglas Highway at its deepest. Another audience member asked if all water in the proposed pit will drain into the aquifer. It would. Then she asked if the same thing would happen with a fuel spill. It was explained that fueling will take place on concrete fueling pads, and that “kits” to contain a spill will be on hand at all times. A former Planning Board member asked if maintenance of fueling pads would be improved, since he recalled deferred maintenance problems as well as slope violations in the past. Another question was about the size of the proposed pit and site plan. Different pages of the application seemed to some to contradict themselves.
By the time all questions were asked, it was nearly 9:30 PM and there was no time left to state opinions by audience members. Acting Chairman Don Bamman asked if there were people who still wished to speak. At least 18 hands went up. He originally scheduled the following night for a second round, but when he mentioned that he couldn’t attend, Town Attorney Pileggi said that all Planning Board members must be in attendance. As a result, the next round will happen on a future, but unknown date.
Tune into the Planning Board meeting on October 2nd, when the next time will be announced (at least a week to 10 days after that – so past the Columbus Day holiday, maybe October 10. That was already the next scheduled meeting for this special (without Chairman John Holt) planning board.
The good news is that if you wanted to come Wednesday but had other obligations you now have a second chance. The other good news is that the Planning Board will still take letters (written testimony) from concerned citizens until the second hearing, and spoken testimony at the hearing.
The Site Plan Review and the Gravel Ordinance, and Comprehensive Plan in effect at the time is available under “Document Vault” in the right column (or just click on the links). It helps the Planning Board know what parts of the ordinances you are addressing if you include them in your testimony.
As of now (9/30/2017) there is still no recording available of the hearing on the Town Hall streams website, so I am writing this from memory. As such, I suspect some minor details may be wrong, please watch the hearing yourself once it becomes available!
I am sorry to note that Lamoine is feeling the Corridor effect right now; all governmental support has been in favor of the corporation, at the expense of the rights of Ecosystems and community self governance. All towns (Bar Harbor, Mt. Desert)should see Lamoine as a living example of this and begin to move in the direction of adopting rights based ordinances, such as the water extraction ordinance I have forwarded to Don and Steve, and described to John.
Lamoine is cutting edge on aesthetics, and the applicant attorney realizes that and is concerned. His case law rationale does not dictate to a judge that it has to continue in Lamoine. In fact if it is successful in Lamoine it begins to cancel the argument, and other towns have a better chance of using it. There’s no chance of it being successful if the citizens don’t push it. And I think the circumstances for this planning board to accept it are in place.