Appeals in Alna shoreland project get airing

Mon, 02/15/2021 - 8:45am

One board’s decision linked to another’s is figuring into a third board’s work. That issue and several others came up on Zoom Feb. 11 when Alna’s appeals board started hearing three appeals relating to Jeff Spinney’s recent shoreland project. Then Spinney’s lawyer Kristin Collins had to go into a meeting at Old Orchard Beach town hall. The board set a second session for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Night one included participants speaking to the point of appealing the planning board’s decision in favor of the earthwork project at Spinney’s boat launch off Golden Ridge Road. Given that Spinney and selectmen reached a deal after mediation, the planning board’s decision incorporated part of that deal, and the appeals board lacks jurisdiction on the deal, appeals board member David Buczkowski said: “I’m not so sure that we have a path forward here.”

Attorney Gordon Smith, for appellants Carol Ervin, Allen Philbrick and William Weary, argued the deal between selectmen and Spinney is “open to challenge,” and opponents will need to challenge both it and, through the appeals board, the planning board decision. “That (deal) does not make this proceeding unnecessary because if either ... were to stand, then the abutters would have lost their rights.”

The deal followed mediation after Spinney’s prior proposal failed 2-2 with the planning board, another appellant, Ed Pentaleri, noted. The appeals board upheld that decision and now is handling appeals of the planning board’s decision in favor of Spinney’s subsequent, winning proposal and an appeal of a code enforcement decision.Talks Feb. 11 focused largely on the planning board part.

Also at issue in night one: Did Spinney have all the permits he needed? And could Pentaleri and one of the other appellants, Cathy Johnson, appeal the planning board’s decision, since their properties do not abut Spinney’s? 

Johnson said they have standing due to their nearness to, use of, and contributions to help, the Sheepscot River; their participation in meetings on the project from the outset; and Johnson’s nearness to Spinney. “We’re not just people who flew in from Boston and had no connection to this,” Johnson said. “We clearly have deep connections with this area and this project in particular.”

Collins said the two would have to show the matter they are appealing impacts them more than it does the general public. The board decided 2-1 there was standing.

Collins denied appellants’ claims of bias and influence in the planning board decision. She said Spinney’s project met the town’s shoreland zoning and his state permit. Spinney also said he had all the permits he needed for the work he did. Weary cited differences he said the work had from what Maine Department of Environmental Protection had nodded months earlier. “So there is a game being played ...,” Weary said.

Addressing the DEP issue earlier in the meeting. Collins said: “DEP has inspected this project as built and found that it is entirely in conformance with the permit that they issued.”