Spinney appeals ramp rejection

Sun, 08/30/2020 - 11:00am

    Alna’s appeals board will pick a chair and secretary Tuesday night, Sept. 1, possibly outdoors, as the panel prepares for its first case in years: The planning board’s 2-2 rejection of Jeff Spinney’s proposed work on a ramp at the Sheepscot River, off Golden Ridge Road.

    The planning board should have found the ramp was a non-conforming structure, and the board set too high a bar for Spinney to prove the history of the ramp’s use, Spinney’s lawyer Kristin Collins argues in a letter the town provided at Wiscasset Newspaper’s request.

    “Laurie Hiestand stated ... that she needed to ‘see’ photographic evidence from the actual people who maintained the boat ramp some 30 years ago, and to know how much material was placed on the ramp when it was maintained ... Jim Amaral questioned witnesses about the weight and type of boats that were launched, and the volume of material that was applied to the bank. It is simply unreasonable to require the applicant to provide that level of detail ...,” Collins’ Aug. 20 letter to the appeals board states.

    In deliberations, members cited conflicting information presented to them about maintenance. One past owner recalled the ramp was not maintained, members noted. Maintenance was part of the board’s mulling if the ramp was grandfathered from the town’s 1993 shoreland zoning rules. Hiestand and Amaral voted it was not grandfathered; Tom Albee and Taylor MacGraw voted it was.

    Collins’ letter claims other errors, including a focus on the type of use the ramp saw over the years and disregarding an ordinance section Collins said allows permanent ramps “under limited circumstances.”

    Selectmen recently named David Buczkowski to the appeals board. David Abbott, Alex Pugh and Mary Bowers also serve on it, Second Selectman Doug Baston said.

    The panel’s 5:30 p.m. Sept. 1 meeting at the town office will be outdoors if the weather is good, an Aug. 25 town email states. “If not, masks will be worn and social distancing measures taken.”