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Lamoine Board of Appeals

Minutes - December 9, 2014 (Draft, Subject to Correction)

Chair Griff Fenton called the meeting to order at 6:30 PM

Present were:  Appeals Board members Jay Fowler, Connie Bender, Cece Ohmart, Griff Fenton, Jon VanAmringe (arrived 6:35); Code Enforcement Officer Michael Jordan, Administrative Assistant to the Selectmen Stu Marckoon.  Member Jim Crotteau had informed the board earlier that he would be unable to attend.  The meeting aired on the local Cable TV Channel, however, there was no audio, either live or recorded due to an equipment error.

Minutes – November 5, 2014 – Cece moved to approve the minutes as drafted.  Connie 2nd.  Vote in favor was 4-0 (VanAmringe not yet present, arrived shortly after vote)

Benincasa v. CEO/Planning Board – Jon said the proposed findings seemed to follow what the Planning Board had agreed upon. He moved to approve the proposed findings.  Cece 2nd.  Vote in favor was 2-0 (Ohmart & VanAmringe were two of the three on the panel).  Stu said he would try to contact Jim Crotteau to sign the document before distributing.

Appeals Board Ordinance – Griff said this has been on the back burner for some time.  He referred to a document compiled several months ago outlining the various appeals sections of each ordinance in Lamoine.  He said he obtained ordinances from other towns and handed out some of those samples.  He said he likes the format that Mt. Desert uses, wording in the Saco, St. Albans and Alna ordinances.  He said if parts of those ordinance could be used to stitch something together, it might work.

Stu asked what the goal was.  Griff said it was to consolidate the appeals processes into one ordinance instead of changing the process from ordinance to ordinance. Jon said the other ordinances would be cleansed to remove the appeal sections and refer to the new ordinance instead.  Griff said the Appeals Board can offer a cost savings for citizens over going to court. 

Jay said folks ought to have an idea of whether an appeal can be heard administratively or de novo.  He said the Board needs to be fair to the people involved in an appeal.  Jon said the ordinance should give the Appeals Board the ability to make that call.  Jay said the processes could be defined in the new ordinance.  Jon noted that if the Appeals Board can resolve matters at this level, it would keep cases out of court, saving both the parties involved and the town some money.  A discussion followed on de novo vs. administrative hearings.

Stu asked what process the board wished to use to draft up the ordinance.  Griff said he would try to put something together for the next meeting.  Jay said the more input there is, the better the ordinance would be.  Jon said the Planning Board should be invited for input.  A discussion followed regarding interaction with other board, and the process of how to start drafting an ordinance. 

The board acknowledge the ordinance is unlikely to be ready for the annual town meeting in March, but possibly for a special town meeting later.  There was a brief discussion about the appeal process in the Harbor Ordinance.  Jon said he didn’t think this process would become a turf issue.  He said one goal would be to have a process that is easy to understand, and the Appeals Board is willing to take on more responsibilities than current ordinances lay out.

The Board asked Stu to mention to the Selectmen that they are undertaking this process. Griff said he and Stu would work on a first draft and e-mail it to the rest of the Appeals Board for the next meeting.

Communication – Russell Boynton Jr.  – Stu reported that Mr. Boynton operates a scrap metal hauling business, and while he was the acting Animal Control Officer he received a complaint at Mr. Boynton’s property.  He said he observed a huge amount of debris stored on the property and referred the matter to the Code Enforcement Officer.  He said the CEO wrote a Notice of Violation to Mr. Boynton in November, giving Mr. Boynton until December 12 to clean up the mess.  He said Mr. Boynton has started hauling off some of the material but is requesting a time extension because of weather conditions.

Jon asked if he understood correctly that Mr. Boynton wished to extend the deadline by 6-months and to apply for a junkyard permit.  He said it’s unlikely the Planning Board would approve the permit because the property is in the wrong zone.

CEO Michael Jordan said the request seems to be for more time to haul the metal away.  A discussion followed about obtaining a junkyard permit.   Cece said a 6-month extension seems reasonable.  Mr. Jordan said that gives Mr. Boynton and the town a chance to start the conversation on how to get into compliance. 

Griff asked Mr. Jordan what he thought of the request.  Mr. Jordan said he believed that the mess would have been cleaned up sooner if it’s not under a pile of snow.  A discussion followed about the timing of the cleanup.  Jon said the snow and road posting season are complications to cleaning up the junk.  Cece said the extension seems fair given the weather.  Jay said he believed that Mr. Boynton would clean up the mess, but it’s the wrong time of year for that.  Jon said he was OK with a 6-month extension.   Mr. Jordan noted that Mr. Boynton has already started to have stuff hauled away, and that’s a good faith effort.

Jay moved to extend the deadline imposed by the Code Enforcement Officer’s Notice of Violation until June 12, 2015.  Cece 2nd.  Vote in favor was 5-0.

Next Meeting – After much discussion, the board set the next meeting for January 13, 2015 at 6:30 PM.

Follow Up – The Board asked about the status of the Gott Commercial Building project that was the subject of an appeal earlier in the year.  Stu reported that the site work has started and the Selectmen, Planning Board and Code Enforcement Officer received a complaint that the project was violating the Lamoine Gravel Ordinance.  He said the Code Enforcement Officer had responded that a commercial building permit was granted by the Planning Board and it was with the knowledge by both the Planning and Appeals Board that a significant amount of material would be moved to complete the project.   There was a brief discussion on whether the Planning Board had imposed a time limit to complete the project as suggested by the Board of Appeals.

More discussion followed regarding how the Boynton scrap hauling operation could be permitted with no resolution offered.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:35 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Jon VanAmringe, Secretary