Carousel Marina, Conley’s and minor subdivision progress with planning board

Tue, 06/11/2024 - 1:00pm

    At the Boothbay Harbor planning board’s June 5 meeting, neither of two applications nor a pre-application got full approval, due to missing information, incomplete applications, and more time needed for review.  

    The board held a public hearing for a minor subdivision at the former Beach Cove Waterfront Inn. Surveyor Nicholas Plumer gave an overview of the four-lot development on West Harbor Pond. The board also presented two new documents expressing concerns about the development. The documents came from abutter Ralph Colby and planning board member Merritt Blakeslee, who is also president of West Harbor Pond Waterfront Association. In addition, abutter Rob Leavitt spoke. 

    Residents shared similar concerns about stormwater runoff from the property impacting pond health, saying development could exacerbate ongoing issues. Blakeslee provided a memo detailing his concerns with the runoff and provided legal and ordinance context. He also said where he thought the application was lacking, including stormwater management, phosphorus control, fire protection and public water and sewer.  

    Colby wrote he fully supports the subdivision plan to break the hotel into buildable lots. However, he expressed concerned about how it could affect alewife and eel populations. He requested the board insist the developers get an expert opinion on their runoff plan to see if it is sufficient to protect the pond. Leavitt echoed his neighbors’ concerns and said the stormwater issue worsened after the hotel fire in 2022. 

    The board tabled a planned review of the plan. The tabling was to allow residents time to review the documents. The board continued the hearing until the next meeting to allow for public input.  

    Also June 5, Michael van der Veen and attorney Bruce Harris sought a shoreland permit for renovations and repairs at Carousel Marina. Van der Veen said winter storms damaged the building and he had already made permitted repairs to the outside. In addition, he wanted to make repairs to the interior and renovate the space to use it differently. The board and applicants discussed items several board members felt were missing, such as a scaled site plan and information on the exterior.  

    During the application review, the board found most checklist requirements were grandfathered or not applicable. The board determined a scale site plan was needed, but a decades-old one from the record could be satisfactory. The board unanimously passed a motion stating they made positive findings on most of the application, authorizing the code enforcement officer to issue the permit upon receipt of an acceptable site plan. Board member Lee Corbin recused herself from the application, and Lisa Tholl was moved to a voting member.   

    Lastly, Ben and Tim Stover spoke about a pre-application for Conley’s Garden Center. According to Code Enforcement Office Geoff Smith, Conley’s was found in violation of the land use code in March 2023 due to issues including the creation of driveways and structures. Smith said the projects required site plan approval and he eventually imposed a deadline to move things forward when he saw no action.  

    “I had hoped they would have come before the board and been reviewed long before now, but when they hadn’t after over a year, and abutters were increasingly upset with the impact of the Conley’s property on their own, I wrote (them) a letter requiring them to have a complete Planning Board Site Plan application to me by June 19,” he said in an email to the Register. 

    Smith said failure to meet the deadline forces him, by ordinance, to forward the issue to the selectmen for fines, fees, or legal action.  

    The Stovers acknowledged their delay. However, they said they have been working on the needed approvals. They said they had also enlisted the help of a lawyer for the application. Planning board members encouraged them to continue to lean on the lawyer’s help. “Trying to get that done on your kitchen table will not end up well,” Blakeslee said.  

    According to the board, the application also needed a site plan, but said one from the record may be acceptable. They  agreed to a site visit, at the Stovers’ invitation, to better understand the issues.