Dearborn Brothers ConstructionDearborn Brothers Construction Withdraws Offer to Pave Road
Withdraws Offer to Pave Road
Also in this issue:
Citizen Petition Submitted to Protect Residential Properties from Gravel Pits
Planning Board Meetings, Selectmen Meetings, and Limington Parade all on cable.
Flavor of Yesteryear captured by Limington Historical Society
Lawyers Agree on Road Slope
Appeals Board exceeded Authority
Town Establishes Official Website
In the last issue:
Residents have Second Thoughts on Gravel Pit
Cell Tower Approved in Limington
Jump to the July 26th edition
Out of Town Construction Firm now says that the Mill Turn Road is the Responsibility of the Limington Townspeople.
by Dick Jarrett
In the June 22 Planning Board meeting, Dearborn Brothers Construction stated that they would be willing to pave the Mill Turn Road but only after demanding that they be able to use the road 365 days a year. Prior to that, the construction firm had met privately with some of the residents on the road to grease the way for the pit approval. But after the townspeople and Town officials expressed their concerns that ownership and control of the Mill Turn Road should remain with the Town, Dearborn Brothers Construction withdrew its offer. Some people at last Thursday's meeting felt that the company was just punishing the citizens by taking the attitude that "It's my way or the highway" when the spokesmen stated that the construction firm had changed its mind. Although Dearborn Brothers Construction said they would meet the minimum requirements for the pit, they were no longer willing to improve the road since it is a town road and therefore the road would be the Town's responsibility. They elaborated that they pay vehicle excise taxes so that they are entitled to use the road like anyone else. However, since Dearborn Brothers Construction is located out of town, their trucks are not registered in Limington. This means that the excise taxes on their trucks go to other towns and does not help with Limington roads such as the Mill Turn Road. Some town citizens already were beginning to wonder about the true colors of Dearborn Brothers Construction after a spokesman at the site walk described how the company would have liked to set up a toll booth on a town road in another town where the company was required to bear the burden of the upkeep. He said that after all, oil trucks make occasional deliveries that also impact the road so they should pay a few dollars for each trip. The local zoning requirement that commercial and industrial operations shall be located to avoid generating traffic on residential streets combined with the requirement that the use will not result in unhealthful conditions is at odds with Dearborn Brothers Construction's desire to use the Mill Turn Road without paying for improvements. The pounding of heavy trucks on the dirt road is expected to damage the road as well as generate large amounts of hazardous dust. Residents who have asthma on the road will be particularly affected by this dust.
A spokesman for Dearborn Brothers Construction also told the Board that the company was unwilling to perform any studies to ensure that wildlife would not be harmed. If wildlife is a concern, then Dearborn Brothers Construction stated that those concerns would be the responsibility of the "accusers", i.e. the citizens of Limington. The construction firm demanded that neighbors and townspeople pay for any guarantee that the out of town company would not harm the environment. Quite a bit of evidence was submitted outlining the sensitivity of the area for wildlife. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has rated the area on the shorelands of Boyd Pond where Dearborn Brothers Construction proposes to build a pit road as an area of "High Wildlife Value" and the Town's zoning ordinance places this area in a Resource Conservation Zone. Based on the existing evidence, the Board may have a hard time justifying a finding that the plan will "have no adverse effects upon wildlife habitat" as is required before a permit may be issued.
The Endangered Blanding's Turtle
This turtle has been spotted in nearby areas.
Picture taken from "Threatend and Endangered Species in Forests of Maine, a Guide to Assist with Forestry " available from the county extension office
Another sticking point may be the local requirement that all state permits must be in place before local approval can be granted. Dearborn Brothers Construction may not need a state permit unless it excavates five acres. However, Dearborn Brothers Construction is applying to the Town for a 100 acre pit permit. While the Board may be legally able to grant a permit for the initial five acres, it would be hard pressed to justify approval for all 100 acres without first receiving the state permits as required by the Limington Zoning Ordinance.
Dearborn Brothers Construction also claimed that heavy, slow moving gravel trucks pulling out onto the state highway would actually enhance traffic safety in the area. Specifically, as automobiles experience near-accident encounters with slow moving gravel trucks, the car drivers will learn to go more slowly. Coming around a corner at high speed and finding the road blocked will scare people into becoming safer drivers. For the drivers who survive, this intimidation by large trucks can be thought of as the "trickle-down" theory of traffic safety. The neighbors will surely appreciate these slow moving large trucks hogging the road and forcing all of the cars to slow down.
Finally, the Board will have no trouble finding that the pit will not have an adverse effect on natural beauty. Presumably because a profit can be made off of gravel, Board member Diane Hubbard stated that "Some people think that gravel is beautiful."
The Mill Turn Road is not a stranger to the Planning Board. It was only two years ago that the Board allowed a developer to use the Mill Turn Road as a residential street for the Mill Turn Subdivision. Although the Board could have required the subdivider to pay for the cost of bringing the road up to town standards, the decision was made not to require improvements because those costs would just be passed on to the new lot owners. Now it looks like the Town taxpayers may end up footing the bill for the road improvements needed by this out of town construction firm.
The Mill Turn Road also played a direct role in a previous gravel pit controversy. As a result of the shoreland concerns in the Mill Turn Subdivision review, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) learned that the town had adopted new shoreland regulations (1997 Zoning) that were inconsistent with state requirements. Specifically, the then recent approval of the White Brothers pit did not meet the State imposed shoreland zoning ordinance of 1994. The State then repealed the State imposed shoreland ordinance and replaced it with conditions to be attached to the 1997 Limington Zoning Ordinance. The DEP also at that time changed the zoning map so that a wetland buffer in the White Brothers pit could be made available for gravel extraction.
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Citizen Petition Submitted to Protect Residential Properties from Gravel PitsRegistrar of Voters validates 107 Citizen Signatures
A citizen petition to amend the Limington Zoning Ordinance was submitted to the Town Office two weeks ago for consideration by the voters in the November elections. Last week the Limington Registrar of Voters, Raymond Webb, declared that more than enough signatures of registered voters in the Town of Limington were submitted to validate the petition. Copies of the petition were then submitted to the Planning Board at last Thursday's meeting. The Planning Board has 30 days to hold a public hearing after which the Selectmen must hold a second public hearing. More details about the specifics of the petition will be covered in a future article in the Limington Free Press. However, if the amendment passes, the Dearborn Construction Company would be required to pay for the expense of improving the Mill Turn Road if their gravel pit application is approved. A complete copy of the proposed amendment is posted on this website.
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Watch Out "Survivor", Limington has it's ownPlanning Board Meetings, Selectmen Meetings, and Limington Parade are all on cable. "Reality TV"
Thanks to the efforts of www.Limington.org and citizen Dave Smith, the people of Limington can now view the public's business on cable TV. For the past few weeks, the Limington Selectmen's Meetings have been recorded for broadcast on the local access cable channel. The tapes are then played Wednesday morning and evening of the following week. Not all of the public's business has been available for public scrutiny, however. Twice the selectmen have turned off the camera during the meeting. Although there are limited circumstances where Town business can be held in secret, the board must announce the subject matter before entering an executive session. Unfortunately, it appears to the viewers that the camera is unceremoniously turned off without explanation. Also, some viewers have complained that the public's business is conducted in low voices and mumbled conversations.
Viewers may also notice an example of Selectman Herbert Ramsdell's "open-door policy" in action. When the door between the Selectmen's office and Town Clerk's office is left open half-way, the door nicely shields Selectman Ramsdell from the view of the camera.
The Fourth of July festivities were also recorded and broadcast on cable. These included the Limington Parade, a walk-through of the Limington Art Show, the dedication of the Municipal Complex, and the concluding fireworks display. The people of Limington can feel pride as these festivities, events, and meetings can be viewed by all of the towns in the SAD 6 area.
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Make & Break Engine restored by Elwin Plummer of Raymond Maine
Flavor of Yesteryear captured by Limington Historical Society
The field next to the Limington Historical Society resonated with the nostalgic sound of make and break engines on Saturday May 20th. Over twenty exhibitors from the Maine Antique Power Association (MAPA) displayed lovingly restored and operating make and break engines which were the workhorses of yesteryear. John Hubbard and crew were even able to get the make and break engine belonging to the Historical Society up and running. Those who missed this event got a second chance to see a few of the exhibitors in the Limington Fourth of July Parade.
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Lawyers Agree on Road SlopeAppeals Board Had No Right To Give Variance.
Final Outcome yet to be Decided: Question may be moot but Lawyers disagree on action to be taken when Appeals Board exceeds its authority.
The Limington Zoning Ordinance specifies a maximum slope for all roads constructed in town. There are many reasons why road slope is important for safety. If a road is too steep, fire and rescue vehicles will be unable to travel on the road depending upon weather conditions. Steep roads are also much harder to maintain, plow, and lead to excessive erosion and other environmental problems.
Last December, the Appeals Board granted a variance to Michael Hanson for the slope of a road serving a new lot in the Resource Conservation Zone. The Zoning Ordinance, however, only authorizes the Appeals Board to grant variances for dimensional requirements. Slope is not a dimension but is instead a road construction standard. At the June 22nd Planning Board meeting, the Planning Board recognized that variances could not be applied to slope and granted a permit on the condition that the Town's slope requirements still be met. After the Board's ruling, Chairwoman Wendy Walker asked the town lawyer, Jim Haddow to comment on the Board's action. Selectman Herbert Ramsdell opened Mr. Haddow's response and the letter's existence and general content were made public on cable. This prompted a citizen to request a second opinion from a private lawyer. Both opinions were viewed by the Planning Board at last Thursday's meeting. The Limington Free Press requested a copy of Mr. Haddow's letter under Maine's Freedom of Information Act and both letters are published on this website.
While both lawyers agreed that the Appeals Board had acted outside of its authority, Town Lawyer Jim Haddow said that that did not matter now. Since no one had appealed the Appeals Board decision within 30 days, the decision must stand. Furthermore, the Planning Board must compound this error, ignore the zoning ordinance, and abide by the Appeals Board decision. However, a complicating factor, unknown to Mr. Haddow, was brought up by the second lawyer, Mr. Michael Cooper. The Limington Zoning ordinance requires that all variances be recorded at the York County Registry of Deeds and given to the Planning Board within 30 days. This was not done. In fact, the variance was not recorded within the 90 days required under state law either. Therefore, the variance has expired in any case and no longer has any validity.
No action was taken at last Thursday's Planning Board meeting so that further information can be solicited from the Town lawyer. Under the rules of the Planning Board, the Board may reconsider a decision at the meeting following the meeting when a decision was made.
The two lawyers do have a difference opinion on what action the Planning Board should take when processing a variance in which the Appeals Board has exceeded its authority. Mr. Haddow is of the opinion that the Planning Board must honor the variance. Mr. Cooper opines that the Planning Board was correct when it determined that it could not honor a variance that the Appeals Board had no right to give. Only a court could resolve which lawyer is correct. However, since the variance has apparently expired, this question may be moot.
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Town Establishes Official WebsiteYour tax dollars at work...
In an action not mentioned in the Selectmen's minutes, the Town of Limington has established its own official website with the domain name www.Limington.net. The site boasts many pictures, a professional layout, and useful information. A search of the Internet's "WhoIs" database actually reveals that two domain names have been registered to the Town of Limington. The first, www.TownOfLimington.org, was registered for two years on May 2nd with the Town Clerk specified as the administrative contact. As of this writing, www.TownOfLimington.org does not work. The second domain name, www.Limington.net was registered for one year on June 30th with Kathleen Maddocks specified as the administrative contact.
Welcome, Limington, to cyberspace. Note: www.Limington.org takes no responsibility for errors in and cannot vouch for the accuracy of the www.Limington.net website. Specifically, the Selectmen seem to have accidentally forgotten to place a link to the most complete source of local information about Limington, the www.Limington.org website.
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