The meeting started at 7:06 p.m.
Commission members present :
Fred Stocking (chair), Nancy Pochan, Donna Theall, Carol Korty, Raymonde Dumont (secretary).
Nancy Pochan’s term has expired, and been renewed by the selectmen. Donna Theall and Carol Korty have been appointed by the selectmen.
Others Attending : Ken Smith, Jo Cooper, Joan Bragdon, Mike Garrett.
Presentation by Gary Friedman, chair of the Bar Harbor Conservation Commission :
The BHCC has been in existence for 20 years, with Gary as chair for the past 10. Only half of towns in Maine have a CC to date. Gary sees the CC as “the environmental conscience” of a town. In Bar Harbor, a great deal of attention has in particular gone to issues around tree cutting. The town has a more extensive ordinance than Lamoine, which we will review because it voices an inspiring mandate, and clearly delineates the methodology being employed.As in Lamoine, the BHCC is an advisory body, without authority. It utilizes the media, lobbies for certain issues, participates on other boards, makes presentations and educates the residents.
To illustrate, Gary described the Rural Heritage Design Workshop organized in 2000, with planners experienced in dealing with development. After 2 ½ days, much was learned and recommendations were made addressing the residents’ top priorities in a public meeting. These were the protection of open spaces which define the rural character of sections of BH; and water quality. These issues proved to be interrelated. To address the first point, significant properties were identified. The town council found it controversial to approach the owners regarding conservation issues, and a modification of this approach was negotiated. As for the protection of the aquifer, there has been anecdotal evidence that wells are going dry, and a $60,000 study was jointly funded by the US Geological Survey, the town of BH, Acadia National Park,, and the Friends of Acadia. The study predicted that if development proceeds up to the level currently permitted by town ordinances, there would be problems with wells going dry and/or with septic pollution of the water. In follow-up, a land use planner is being hired to develop recommendations for aquifer protection, taking into account rate of recharge and water quality.
The BHCC has also concerned itself with possible plans for development on wetlands of a size small enough to escape the current ordinance, and is working on a proposal to define wetlands more stringently. This was voted down by town council last week, and will be redrafted and resubmitted. Gary pointed out that the Planning Board is designed to respond to requests according to existing rules, and cannot plan proactively. It is the CC which addresses issues proactively.
The recent expansion of the Jackson Laboratory offers an example of how the CC brings up controversial issues. They invited the president of the Laboratory to discuss the impact of the expansion on MDI. While the Governor took issue with the “criticism” of growth of an important employer, Jill Goldthwaite is now project manager and engaged in dialog regarding the issues which were raised, finding some alternative solutions. Other issues being addressed by the BHCC include: a Zero Waste project; tagging and protecting old valuable trees; supporting good administrative practices in the town; seeking an alternative solution to the widening of Route 3, which spared 2 ½ acres and 2 old trees, and added landscaping to the original DOT proposal.
The BHCC has several sub-commissions, each with a chair (red ant control; open spaces; aquifer and wetlands; Beginning with Habitat; recycling initiative). Its Budget is less than $1000 annually, and under the aegis of the Planning Board, obtained by request only for specific purposes. The town council must authorize Grant applications.
Overall, the BHCC tries to raise concerns in a positive constructive manner, and formulates alternatives. Public meetings are utilized to bring data to the residents’ awareness. The public is then encouraged to come to town counsel. The need for public education exceeds available time and energy. For instance, plans to reach school children on important issues were never able to materialize. However, the BHCC uses its contacts with the press extensively to capitalize on current issues and events.
Concerns of those attending, and of Planning Board:
Joan Bragdon and Mike Garrett discussed the vandalizing of the three test wells on the proposed stump grinding site. These wells were used to determine water flow. There is concern that they may now have been contaminated as well. The owners of the property do not wish to test these wells for water quality, though the Planning Board would like the town to request testing.
A Planning Board member has resigned. Applications are solicited.
Funding of Projects :
Nancy Pochan and Donna Theall looked into grants available from Project Canopy. These will be further discussed next month.
Aquifer research funding was not available to date, so Peter Garrett could not be retained at this time. He suggested to Fred that we might skip the preliminary study and try to fund the complete study right away. The legalities of applying and accepting grants need to be researched, unless the LCC is given some authority to this end.
Gravel Pit Reclamation Proposal :
Carol Korty explored the willingness of Dick King to allow the Army Corps of
Engineers (ACE) to investigate, and possibly contribute to the reclamation of
an open section of pit. However, the town would need to own this land for ACE
to be involved; and Mr. King will only cooperate with selectmen, not with LCC.
The LCC unanimously approved a motion to:
Recommend that the Board of Selectmen discuss with Dick King his willingness to ask the ACE for a preliminary study of reclamation of the pit originally excavated by ACE, adjacent to Route 204; and that the selectmen request the study if Mr. King is amenable.
A discussion of financial liabilities and safeguards ensued, and Carol will investigate how long the town needs to hold ownership to satisfy ACE requirements.
Fred noted that an informal break after a speaker (as was done after Gary’s presentation) allows for spontaneous exchange of ideas. We may consider refreshments for future events.
On October 8, we will organize a Development Panel, at Carol’s initiative. She reported that either Ken Klein, or Isabel Mansenelli from COA will attend. Ted Koffman of COA (BH representative in Augusta) has also agreed. Also, Ann Krieg, BH professional planner. A work meeting will be held on August 28 to discuss the format of the event, whom to invite from the Lamoine planning board, and to develop a plan for advertising.
The meeting adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
Lamoine Conservation Commission