Town of Lamoine, Maine
Lamoine Board of Appeals
Chairman Chris Tadema-Wielandt called the meeting to order at 6:05 PM.
Present were: Appeals Board members Chris Tadema-Wielandt, Jay Fowler, Hancock “Griff” Fenton, John Wuorinen, Reginald McDevitt, Warren Craft Sr.; member of the public Christine Schmidt
Alvarez et al vs. Lamoine Planning Board re: Seal Point Lobster. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said attorney Gary Hunt phoned him earlier in the day to inform him the court reporter was unable to attend, and that he and attorney Ed Bearor agreed on some dates for a continuation. The preference for both sides was Thursday December 9th. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if that date was a problem. There was a discussion about the date. Mr. Fenton and Mr. Wuorinen expressed displeasure at the delay.
Mr. Fowler asked if a public hearing requires notice. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said by advertising tonight’s date there is adequate public notice. Mr. Wuorinen asked if there ought to be more publicity for the continuation date, bending over backwards to let the public know. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said he thinks the Board has done that. Mr. Fowler said he’s afraid that because Mr. Hunt called it off, people could get confused. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said he didn’t see anyone here tonight, and that was the date in the newspaper. He said he didn’t publicize that the hearing was not going to take place tonight. Members of the board related when they found out there would not be a hearing, and the time varied.
Mr. Wuorinen said he could make it on the 9th, but urged the board to put it off so adequate notice could appear in the newspaper. There was a discussion regarding newspaper advertising, and the requirements for a public hearing. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said he’d ordered the ad for tonight’s hearing to accommodate Mr. Alvarez’s contention that the general public had not been notified. He said he disagreed with Mr. Wuorinen’s request to advertise. More discussion followed regarding the need to re-advertise the postponed hearing. Mr. McDevitt urged that the meeting notice be posted in two places in town. He noted it’s expensive to post the meeting every time in the newspaper. Mr. Fenton said no matter what’s done someone could have a gripe with the process. Mr. Wuorinen urged the Board to err on the side of caution, advertising at least 10-days ahead of the meeting. More discussion followed on the meeting date. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said the two parties have requested the 9th.
At the Board's request, Mr. Craft said the Board has accommodated the people for a year, bending over backwards. He said it’s time for the parties to accommodate the Board. Mr. Fowler said he didn’t want someone to throw a technicality in the board’s face, as that would be a waste of time. Mr. Craft urged the Board to proceed with the hearing tonight, and said the Board has been more than reasonable.
Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said both sides are represented by counsel, and both counsel agreed to the continuance. He said he didn’t know who else would be accommodated by publishing a notice, or who else would have standing to challenge the notice. Mr. Fenton said the accommodation for Mr. Alvarez delayed the hearing, which could have been held a few days ago. Mr. Fowler asked Chairman Tadema-Wielandt when he found out that it wouldn’t happen tonight. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt replied it was mid-afternoon. Mr. Fenton said the case has gone on and on and on, and by trying to appease the parties by giving 10-days notice, and he would like to reach a conclusion. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt polled the Board as to their availability on the 9th. All but Mr. McDevitt said they were, and Mr. McDevitt said he didn’t know. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said he would schedule the meeting for the 9th at 6:00 PM. Mr. McDevitt asked why 6:00 PM. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said he would be willing to move to 6:30 PM. He said he would like to finish taking the evidence, which should not take more than an hour, then make the findings of fact and conclusions of law. Mr. McDevitt said he would call regarding whether he can make it.
Minutes of November 10, 2004 - Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if the committee members had a chance to look at the minutes. Board members suggested numerous changes and forwarded them to the secretary. With those changes, Mr. Wuorinen moved to approve the minutes as edited. Mr. Fenton 2nd. Vote in favor was 4-0.
Application for Variance by Christine Schmidt - Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if everyone had a copy of the submission. Members reviewed their materials. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said it appears this is an appeal from a decision by the Planning Board not to permit a sign larger than 2-feet by 3-feet, the maximum size permitted under the ordinance.
Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if any Board members had any conflict or bias on this matter. None indicated that they did. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if there was any question as to whether the Appeals Board has jurisdiction in this matter. He said the ordinance is pretty clear that only the Board of Appeals has authority to issue a variance. He read, for the record, the application for variance. He said Ms Schmidt is requesting a variance for a display unit about 4-feet by 8-feet and 6-inches deep with a clear cover and a small roof to protect it from the elements. He said board members are aware that the Board must find in the affirmative in four areas, that the land in question could not yield a reasonable return, that it’s for unique circumstances, and that it would not alter the essential character of a locality, and that the hardship was not the result of action taken by the appellant or a prior owner.
Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked Ms. Schmidt if she had any further information. Ms. Schmidt said her gallery is located at the end of Artist’s Way, about 500-feet off the road, and it’s difficult to draw people down there, because it doesn’t look like there is anything there. She said most tourists are hesitant coming onto private property. She said tourists looking for galleries need to know what the price range of the pictures is.
(Tape 1 Side A ends here)
Ms. Schmidt said she plans to put about 6 pictures in the display sign with a listing of the prices. She said the display would be located in such a place that people could drive up. She said it’s 87-feet from the center of the road (Route 184). She showed the Board a drawing of the location. She asked if the Board had a copy of that. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said that was not provided to the Board ahead of time, but was in the file.
Mr. Wuorinen said looking from Route 184 to Artist’s Way; it’s down the hill. Ms. Schmidt said yes. The Board discussed the perspective in the sketch shown by Ms. Schmidt. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked it was 87 feet from the center of Route 184. Ms. Schmidt said yes. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if Artist’s Way is a private way or a public way. Ms. Schmidt said private.
Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said there is a plot plan on the back of the application and the Board looked at it. He asked if Ms. Schmidt’s corkboard proposed is 4 by 8. Ms. Schmidt said she’s not sure of the exact measurements. She said it’s not like a sign, it’s just pictures. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if there were other residents on Artist’s Way. Ms. Schmidt said her sister and her sister’s husband live on the road, and there is a workshop for her brother-in-law on the land. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if they are aware of the plans. Ms. Schmidt said yes. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if they had any objections. Ms. Schmidt said her brother-in-law was starting to put in the sign, when she said she told him to wait, because she needs permission first.
Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said the rendering shows the sign to be 3-feet by 8-feet, but the application says 4-feet by 8-feet. Ms. Schmidt confirmed the size of the material would determine the size of the display. She said she’s pretty sure it’s 4-feet by 8-feet.
Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said the application to the Planning Board was for a 3 by 8. Ms. Schmidt said they could keep it 3 by 8. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said the application is 4 by 8. Ms. Schmidt said the length is 8-feet. Mr. Fowler asked if the gallery is at Ms. Schmidt’s house. Ms. Schmidt said it’s a separate building next to her house; part of the garage.
Mr. Craft asked if the neighbors were notified of this. Ms. Schmidt said no. Mr. Fowler said the letter from Stu Marckoon indicated that the Board was not going to take it up tonight, but would start the process. Ms. Schmidt said Mr. Marckoon called her and told her to show up tonight. Mr. Fowler said the Board probably needs to notify the abutting landowners. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said, as much as he’d like to finish this tonight, the Board should probably publish the next date and notify the abutters. Discussion followed on the proper date.
Mr. Wuorinen asked if there was a need for a site visit. Mr. Craft said he’s driven up and down there a few times, and asked if there was a hazard there. A very brief discussion followed. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said there needs to be notice and the public should have the opportunity to be present and comment. He suggested that each member drive by and stop to see the site. Mr. Craft expressed concern that the driveway is a blind-drive and might pose some safety problems. Discussion followed on the visibility from the drive.
Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked if the Board could agree that each member would make a visit to the site prior to the public hearing.
Chairman Tadema-Wielandt polled the Board about dates. He set the meeting for Tuesday, December 21, 2004, at 7:00 PM. He said it was helpful to have the initial look-over of the project.
Mr. Craft asked about the status of the Appeals Board Ordinance being proposed by the Planning Board. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said he’s not had a chance to put this on the agenda. He asked whether the Appeals Board wished to have that on the agenda for the 21st. Mr. Fenton said the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has dealt with a number of issues surrounding de novo and/or appellate hearings. A short discussion followed regarding the status of court decisions. Board members noted that any change in ordinance needs to go to town meeting. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt asked Board members to give some consideration to the proposed ordinance prior to the meeting of the 21st. The board discussed the potential for flexibility in such an ordinance.
There being no further business, Mr. Wuorinen moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. McDevitt asked if there were any other matters before the board. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said not that he knew of. Mr. Fowler asked if there was just a vote to not have bigger signs in the ordinance. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said the purpose of a variance was to ask for something that is not allowed by the rules. Mr. Fowler said he thought the town just voted on that. Chairman Tadema-Wielandt said he thinks it was part of the last set of proposed changes.
Mr. Craft 2nd the motion to adjourn. Vote in favor was unanimous. The meeting adjourned at 7:32 PM
Stu Marckoon, Secretary
(minutes compiled from audio tape of meeting, approved with changes 12/21/04)