Alna planning board

Panels work to move on from Spinney matter

Wed, 01/06/2021 - 8:45am

    Alna planning board member Laurie Hiestand asked Jan. 5, why Jeff Spinney’s abutters do not have to sign Jeff Spinney’s proposed boat launch deal with the town. “I don’t know, Laurie, none of us have legal expertise,” Chair Jim Amaral said. “I believe (selectmen’s and Spinney’s approval) provides some protection to the town.”

    Neighbor Cathy Johnson reiterated she has asked that her name be removed from the document. She said she plans to ask selectmen Jan. 6.

    At first Tuesday night, the planning board declined Third Selectman Greg Shute’s request it include part of the agreement in its facts about its Dec. 10 passage of Spinney’s shoreland proposal. The Zoom meeting came a day before selectmen are set to take up the agreement. Hiestand wondered how the planning board could incorporate part of a document that was still a proposal.

    Members also wanted to base their facts document on their Dec. 10 meeting, not the proposed deal which stems from mediation over Spinney’s prior application the board rejected 2-2. And they said having Shute’s comments in the minutes will show the board is aware of the proposed deal.

    “I think you ought to talk to Greg (again) because you are now putting a settlement agreement with the town in jeopardy, by not addressing it properly,” Spinney said. “If you need to ... sort this out with the selectmen, do that. But I think this is an important thing to not screw up.”

    Shute stressed the selectmen still needed to discuss the agreement in public. He called it a “very comprehensive document” that bars Spinney from using a rollout mat and bars Golden Ridge Sportsman’s Club members from launching motor boats at the site. “I guess I would like to see it somehow as part of the finding of fact, that this is going to take place,” he said when Hiestand asked if the planning board could do it at its next meeting, after selectmen have acted.

    “The settlement agreement could change tomorrow night. It could be renegotiated ...,” she said. “This is a proposal at this point.”

    “Well, I think I’ve shared what I’d like and I think it’s up to you to decide,” Shute said. “I don’t have an attorney sitting beside me right now, so I’m doing this in good faith,” he added.

    Planning board member Beth Whitney proposed the board “acknowledge that the settlement agreement which may be signed by the selectmen tomorrow night could change many of the conditions of Jeff Spinney’s permit approval. We concur with the proposal as presented to us tonight.” After a break, Shute asked the board to add to its findings, “the planning board will approve changes subject to ... the select board  approval of the settlement tomorrow night.”

    Were any changes to the agreement likely, Whitney asked.

    “No,” Shute said. He added later in the meeting, the deal addresses many of the concerns about the project and “really does, I believe, help the town to draw the line in the sand and then start to move forward from this whole project.”

    Spinney, too, said the agreement will be as-is, “a one-time offer of good will.” He does not need it, as he had all the permits he needed, he said. 

    Abutter Allen Philbrick said the wording Shute proposed did not belong in the facts about the Dec. 10 meeting, and the agreement was “just paper at this point,” unsigned, he said.

    Spinney’s lawyer Kristin Collins said, after the board decides the finding of facts, there will be no way to change it without “reopening the whole thing, which I’m sure you don’t want to have to do.”

    “No, we don’t,” Amaral said. Collins suggested the finding of facts document list items from the agreement and note those items depend on the agreement’s approval. The board agreed 4-0-1; Hiestand abstained.

    Also Jan. 5, the board kept Amaral as chair, Taylor McGraw vice chair and Hiestand secretary, mulled hiring a scribe and put off until its 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2 meeting a review of the shoreland zoning ordinance.