The Boothbay Harbor board of appeals received a remand from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court through Lincoln County Superior Court Aug. 29. The remand will proceed to Code Enforcement Officer Geoff Smith to reevaluate findings of fact and conclusions of law concerning Harbor Crossing’s Newcastle Realty building on Todd Avenue.
The court's decision was issued June 28 overriding Lincoln County Superior Court and the Boothbay Harbor BOA, both of which denied Boothbay Harbor property owners Tom Myette's and Chandler Wright's October 2020 appeal to the lifting of a stop-work order issued that September. After the stop-work order was issued, Harbor Crossing submitted amended building plans Smith said conformed to the building permit he issued.
The appellants argued this constituted a new permit by default because the scale of changes should generate a site plan review by the planning board. The BOA ruled in favor of the lifting in November, arguing the window of appeal for other approvals was long past. Myette and Wright appealed to Superior Court in December and the court ruled in favor of the town in August 2021.
BOA Chair Wendy Wolf said the June 28 remand will require Smith to initiate new proceedings including evidence to be identified and recorded and to ensure the opportunity for the applicant and abutters to submit and rebut evidence. She said the board's approval to hand the remand down is just a formality; it received unanimous approval.
The board received a letter from Boothbay Harbor property owners Joe and Jill Doyle's attorney Kristin Collins of Preti Flaherty Aug. 23. Wolf said the letter asked the board when it expected to hear back from the planning board on a remand review of a site plan approval made for the Doyles’ abutter, Boothbay Harbor Waterfront Preservation.
“It's been seven months since the board's remand order and the planning board has not yet taken up the remand,” Wolf read. “Letters of this kind are not terribly typical, so I asked for our town attorney to outline the board of appeals' authority on what actions we may take in response to that letter.”
BOA member Ronald Cohen favored a special BOA meeting to have a planning board member explain in person the circumstances around the delay. Member Lawrence Rebel said he also wants an explanation from the planning board, but that a special meeting should not be necessary.
“There are an awful lot of spokes in this particular wheel and some of these things take time,” said Rebel. “It's in the planning board's court and I ... don't believe a meeting should be scheduled until the planning board is ready to do something.”
The board voted unanimously to issue a written inquiry to the planning board for a written response. Doyles' attorney Cameron Ferrante of Preti Flaherty asked the board to issue an expedited timeline and Wolf said the BOA would also request a quick turnaround for the response.