letter to the editor

Let down again

Mon, 01/11/2021 - 3:30pm

Dear Editor:

Despite heavy and pointed criticism from many Alna residents, on Jan. 6 Alna’s selectmen signed a settlement agreement with Jeff Spinney allowing him to keep the permanent boat launch he built in the Sheepscot River two days after Christmas.

They did this knowing that the abutters and other opponents of Mr. Spinney’s project would continue to oppose this project through multiple pending appeals.

The Alna Planning Board had denied a permit for that same motor boat launch on June 29 and July 27.  Those denials were upheld by the Alna Board of Appeals on Oct. 16.

Seven days later, on Oct. 23, the selectmen (one of whom is Mr. Spinney’s wife) appointed two new members to the Alna Planning Board who had made repeated public statements in support of Mr. Spinney’s project, one of whom served on the Board of Directors for Mr. Spinney’s Golden Ridge Sportsman’s Club.

Three days after that, on Oct. 26, Mr. Spinney submitted a new application to the newly constituted Alna Planning Board for a boat launch essentially identical to the one denied only 10 days earlier. On Dec. 10, the Planning Board, newly fortified with Spinney advocates, orally approved the project.

On Dec. 27, without waiting for the official written approval as required by Alna’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance (SZO), Mr. Spinney constructed a permanent boat launch.

The Selectmen’s actions in appointing members to the Planning Board who were clearly biased in favor of Mr. Spinney’s project so that he could reverse the previous denial are inexcusable.

Their signing of the settlement agreement condones Mr. Spinney’s subterfuge of evading the clear intent of Alna’s SZO by merely relabeling a permanent structure below the high tide line previously denied as mere “earthwork.” 

Their actions also condone Mr. Spinney’s actions in proceeding to actually construct his permanent rock motor boat launch without having a valid final permit in hand.

In signing a settlement agreement with Mr. Spinney, Alna’s Selectmen are ignoring the clear intent of Alna’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, and condoning Mr. Spinney’s aggressive and uncivil pressure.

Our selectmen have let us down – again.

Cathy Johnson

Ed Pentaleri