Pine Point motel parking approved, opponents vow to keep fighting
SCARBOROUGH — Opponents aren't backing down after the Planning Board unanimously approved reconfiguration of a Pine Point motel's parking lot using land gained in a swap with the town.
During the board meeting on Monday, Dec. 14, one resident stood up and interrupted the deliberations, accusing board members of ignoring Department of Environmental Protection requirements.
"So you don't care about DEP; you're above the DEP now?" he asked.
Vice Chairman Cory Fellows, who was in charge of the proceedings in the absence of Chairman Allen Paul, asked Robert Baizley to "respect this process" and attempted to continue the meeting.
But Baizley continued: "I've been watching this; waiting for DEP approval."
When asked Wednesday about DEP requirements, Town Planner Dan Bacon said he talked to the department's shoreline zoning coordinator in October, after the agency had been contacted by a representative of the Pine Point Residents Association. At that time, Bacon said, no shoreland zoning requirements or violations were identified.
"Since that time, the applicant hasn't identified any permits that are necessary and the (planning) staff is not aware of any that are necessary," he said. "The onus is on the applicant. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the applicant's engineer pursues a DEP permit when it's required. In this case, given the interest in the project, the DEP actually contacted us and didn't identify any permits."
No permits are needed, Bacon said, because the motel owners are reusing the same paved surface and are not expanding their impervious area.
According to Lester Barry, of BH2M Engineers in Gorham and engineer for the parking lot reconfiguration, the project does need a DEP permit by rule, which is normally sent in as late as two weeks before work on the project begins. Under this type of permitting, the DEP has two weeks to raise any objections, Barry said.
"When we first put the project in, in the project data we had a DEP application for permission by rule," he said. "We can't send it in until we get approval by the town and then, it's only important to get it in before construction."
Following the board's approval, members and supporters of the residents association, which has fought ardently against the town's decision to trade more land to Lighthouse Motel owners Nick and Peter Truman than what the Trumans are giving the town, were asked to leave the room when their audible complaints over Fellows' decision not to take public comment disrupted the meeting.
During the proceedings, board members were critical of the association for delivering information to individual members' homes instead of supplying it to the Planning Department for dissemination. Circumventing the town, they said, creates the appearance of an ex parte communication and fails to provide the same information to all board members and the public.
On Wednesday, in an e-mail, the association raised another objection it hopes will slow, if not halt, the parking lot process. It is the group's position that the addition of land to the Trumans' property constitutes an expansion of a non-conforming use, which requires approval by the Zoining Board of Appeals.
But the group did not send the e-mail to the town manager or to town staff and sent it only to four of the seven town councilors: Jessica Holbrook, who was not a councilor when the land swap was approved last summer, and land swap opponents Carol Rancourt, Judy Roy and Karen D'Andrea.
Though the latest charge caused the Town Council on Wednesday night to consider delaying the transfer, its concensus was to go ahead, provided the town attorney reconfirm in writing his previous verbal opinion that ZBA approval is not needed. Attorney Chris Vaniotis did that in an e-mail message forwarded Thursday by Town Manager Tom Hall.
Even so, the opponents don't seem ready to concede. Pine Point resident Arlene Hurd on Wednesday said the residents association plans to disclose new information at a Dec. 22 open house on the concept plan for developing the town's portion of the land swap.
"There's a lot that's going to come out," she said. "This is not over."
She declined to elaborate.
The open house from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday at Engine 4 at Pine Point is the first of three scheduled opportunities for residents to learn more about the proposed design for the town-owned public beach access. Town Manager Tom Hall said the sessions will not include formal presentations by the town, but would allow input from the public and provide more details about proposed landscape features.
The other open houses are scheduled for Thrusday, Jan. 7, 2010, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the fire barn and from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, at Town Hall.
Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This report was updated at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17.