CMBG submits new expansion project application for planning board review

Anthony family appealing CEO’s stop work order regarding Nov. 9 ruling
Posted:  Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 7:00am

The Boothbay Planning Board will consider a new Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens application Jan. 17 for constructing phase one of a $30-plus million expansion project. The board previously approved CMBG’s original application in December 2016, but the permit was revoked on Nov. 9 after an appeals board decision.

CMBG’s new application has one major difference from the original. CMBG doesn’t describe itself as a “museum,” which played a key factor in the appeals board decision to deny a permit. 

The application includes paving an entrance road, constructing a new visitor center and building entrance, storm water and utility infrastructure, which includes electrical distribution, telephone, and on-site water for protection and irrigation systems.

The new application also includes an alternative boundary line for the Knickerbocker Lake Watershed Overlay Zone. The current boundary has been in dispute for months. Its location is at the center of whether or not the expansion project is an approved use within the WOZ based on municipal land use codes.

The current boundary line used by town officials was drawn on a map by Code Enforcement Officer Art Dunlap. He sketched the line on the watershed overlay zone map created by Leighton & Associates, Wright-Pierce, and Maine Office of GIS. Boothbay voters approved the district in 2004. 

Boothbay officials have requested the zone be resurveyed. In December, the town hired Attar Engineering of Elliot to survey the zone. As the planning board considers the application, it will need to determine which line is the recognized boundary.

The current WOZ map cautions that “all boundaries are approximate.” The pencil-drawn line by Dunlap represents about 25 feet based on the map’s scale.

“The town wanted a more precise measurement so that’s why a new survey is being done,” said Code Enforcement Officer Jason Lorrain.

The Jan. 17 planning board hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. in the municipal building’s conference room.

On Nov. 9, CMBG’s permit was revoked by the appeals board which led to the code enforcement office issuing a stop work order. But Dunlap’s response wasn’t satisfactory to the Anthony family who appealed Dunlap’s enforcement.

Dunlap’s stop work order allowed CMBG to use completed parking lots in the watershed district for Gardens Aglow’s duration; stopped work outside the area aside from necessary vegetation maintenance or prevent erosion and other environmental harm; and prohibited further construction without obtaining all land use approvals.

In appealing, Anthony family attorney Sarah McDaniel described the order as violating the appeals board’s intent. CMBG officials requested “splitting the application” during the final appeals board hearing. The “splitting” would allow for the planning board’s original approval to remain for locations outside the watershed overlay zone.

She also characterized the order as undermining the board’s decision.

In a letter, McDaniel requested that all work be stopped at the expansion site. She reasoned that CMBG had no permit and no authorization to do any work associated with the expansion.

“The board of appeals determined this was impermissible (expansion) and rejected splitting of the permit,” McDaniel wrote. “The CEO has no authority to undermine or act contrary to the board’s interpretation and he certainly has no authority issuing permits.”

The Thursday, Jan. 18 appeals board hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the municipal building’s conference room.