letter to the editor

Alna’s proposed ordinance change a bad idea

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 3:00pm

Dear Editor:

The citizens of Alna have before them a proposal to amend Alna’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance (SZO). It’s a bad idea and here’s why.

Alna’s SZO has served the town and its interests in protecting the Sheepscot River for decades. It’s a document whose parts are interconnected meaning that a seemingly simple change in one part of the document can easily introduce an unanticipated consequence elsewhere.

Development of Alna’s SZO began in the early 70’s through an open and inclusive process that involved comprehensive reviews by committees, state guidance, public hearings, discussion, and outreach to land owners, ultimately leading to adoption by the town voters. Over the course of many years and permitting decisions involving the River, it has been applied consistently and fairly and with no significant controversy. In short, it has worked well for decades, and we have it to thank for the healthy and well-preserved river we enjoy today.

Despite claims to the contrary, it’s abundantly clear that the SZO amendment that Alna voters are being asked to consider at our Town Meeting next month is narrowly targeted to change Alna’s SLZ in a way that would not only allow the project that has embroiled the town in controversy for more than a year and cost the town thousands of dollars, but would allow an unlimited number of others like it in the years to come.

If there truly is a legitimate need to re-visit our ordinance, the need should be identified and thoroughly explained. Then, through a careful, comprehensive, and public review process recommendations can be made and considered. The proposed change, allowing permanent structures below the high-water line would contradict decades of citizen stewardship and would dramatically alter the character of our River. This proposed SZO may be good for one but it’s bad for all.

Please vote “no” to this bad idea.

Mark and Dale DesMeules