letter to the editor

Boothbay Harbor warrant Article 25 guts resident appeals process

Wed, 05/04/2022 - 10:00am

Dear Editor:

This Saturday, May 7, at 9 a.m., Boothbay Harbor residents will convene for their town meeting at Boothbay Region Elementary School to vote on 29 warrant articles.

We urge residents to reject warrant Article 25, which, if enacted, would eliminate the most important function of the Town’s Board of Appeals – hearing residents’ appeals of decisions of the Code Enforcement Officer and the Planning Board.

Article 25 proposes to modify a key provision of § 107.108(D)(2)(a) of the town’s ordinances that enumerates the powers and duties of the Board of Appeals:

(2) The Board of Appeals shall have the following powers and duties:

(a) Administrative appeals shall be an appellate hearing. If new facts or evidence are available, the matter shall be referred back to the Planning Board or Code Enforcement Officer for a new decision based on the additional information. Administrative appeals: to hear and decide where it is alleged there is an error on any order, requirement, decision or determination made by the Code Enforcement Officer or by the Planning Board. The action or inaction of the Code Enforcement Officer or Planning Board may be modified or reversed by majority vote of those present and voting. This may include enforcement actions.

Warrant Article 25 proposes to replace the bolded language above with the following:

Any order requirement, decision, or determination made, or failure to act, in the enforcement of this Code is not appealable to the Board of Appeals.

The warrant states that the intent of Article 25 “is to clarify the procedures for administrative appeals.” However, approval of Article 25 will make any action or inaction of the CEO or the Planning Board immune from appeal to the Board of Appeals. 

If this change is enacted, residents aggrieved by a decision of the CEO or the Planning Board will lose the right to request a review of the CEO or Planning Board’s action by the local Board of Appeals. Instead, individuals will have to appeal any such action/inaction directly to the Lincoln County Superior Court. And, under this scenario, the town will lose the opportunity to rectify an error before it goes to the Superior Court. Litigation in Superior Court greatly increases the expense to residents and the town to resolve a dispute over a zoning issue.

We urge you to attend Boothbay Harbor’s town meeting and vote to reject Article 25.

Wendy Wolf, Chair, Board of Appeals

Merritt R. Blakeslee, former Chair, Board of Appeals

Lawrence Rebel, Board of Appeals

Rosemary Bourette, Board of Appeals

Ronald Cohen, Board of Appeals

John Hochstein, Planning Board

Jon Dunsford, Planning Board, former member Board of Appeals

Lee Corbin, Planning Board