Alna planning board

Spinney launches 300,000-pound-bearing ramp proposal

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 3:30pm

    In his latest try at a boat ramp Alna will approve at 126 Golden Ridge Road, Jeff Spinney told the planning board Nov. 10, he has ordered a 15-foot wide, modular, portable, military-grade aluminum roadway that will support about 300,000 pounds and cost about $15,000. “So if I wanted to roll tanks down it, I could.” It meets the definition of a temporary structure, he said. “I can roll it out when I want it, and put it away when I don’t.”

    So he sees no issue the board would have, Spinney said in the Zoom meeting and in text replies to Wiscasset Newspaper Nov. 13.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has told him that to change his plan to this, he would need to write a letter and the agency would look at the impacts.

    Planning board member Laurie Hiestand asked Spinney why he was going with military grade and something that can support that tonnage. Spinney answered, “It’s not my first choice, but they’re the only ones that make such a thing. Anywhere else, you would simply put in a discreet-looking permanent something. But until I take (the earlier proposal the board rejected) to Superior Court, which is where we’re headed next, this will be my interim solution.” Besides being temporary, the mat he proposes is easier and would cause less disturbance than other options he looked at, he said.

    In response to questions from Chair Jim Amaral, Spinney said it is designed to not stir up the river bottom and would be placed at low tide. Spinney also proposes earthwork to make a safer, more pleasant surface in place of rocks and other materials he said were dumped there over the years.

    Numerous times, some participants referred to Head Tide Dam’s 2019 makeover as a project they felt might not have met the shoreland rules but, unlike Spinney’s prior ramp bid, got town approval. Besides Spinney raising the issue in his presentation, it also came up when the board looked at a proposed change in shoreland rules.

    Member Peter Tischbein said under the ordinance, the dam work probably should not have gotten a permit. Agreeing was Ralph Hilton. His petition on the ordinance change has selectmen planning a town vote next month. A Nov. 12 town email announced a 6:30 p.m. Nov. 23 Zoom public hearing on that amendment and a proposed amendment to the E-911 addressing ordinance.

    The announcement states the shoreland amendment would  “allow for permanent structures for functionally water-dependent uses extending over or below the normal high water line or within a wetland with planning board approval.”

    Citing past permits for fire department dry hydrants and the dam project, Tischbein said those were probably in the public’s interest, but “all of those, theoretically, if we went in the strictest sense, we should have not permitted those,” and Hilton’s proposal is “probably a needed change” to let the board use its judgment, he said.

    Member Beth Whitney agreed. She recalled the board’s having to say no to some “quite reasonable” projects over the years due to where they were. Members said to avoid a conflict between the amendment and other parts of the ordinance, a further change, or changes, should go to a town vote afterward.

    Amaral polled members for any biases on Spinney’s latest shoreland proposal. Amaral said he asked the questions so everyone in town would know the board looked at the request fairly. Tischbein, of the Army Corps of Engineers, recused himself, as he has on Spinney’s past tries. Other members cited no biases and got the board’s OK to take part.

    Some residents cited their concerns about bias or the appearance. Amaral told them he checked with Maine Municipal Association but would again, for clarification.

    The board planned a site visit for 10 a.m. Nov. 18 and more talks on the proposal at the board’s 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1 meeting.