letter to the editor

Unbalanced decision

Posted:  Monday, April 9, 2018 - 4:30pm

Dear Editor:

I listened online to the Boothbay hearing where the selectmen considered input from the public and reviewed counsel on the consent decree regarding the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (CMBG). I was struck by some of the thoughtful comments from the public on both sides of the issue.

Like some of the speakers, and though I am a fan of CMBG’s work, I admit to being concerned about their aggressive development, communication style, and mission scope — a scope far beyond their creators’ original mission to preserve a part of the Maine coast from development and traded for a tax-free status.

I was troubled by the presentation given by the Boothbay town attorney. She spent considerable time running the meeting with complete license to drive the decision. She expounded on the benefits of, and risks of declining, the consent decree but spent no time whatsoever on the risks of agreeing to it. I would have thought those risks are equally compelling including precedent of “consent” over the authority of the planning boards and the letter of the code in what is an increasingly litigious development environment on our peninsula. I found myself wondering, given her words, whether she was interested in correct resolution or just perceived short-term damage control.

The town boards clearly depend on their attorney for counsel. That counsel is one of the most important parts of an informed and well-made decision. Balance is key because, absent that, it is the counselor themselves who make the decision, and not our leaders. It seems to this listener that balance was missing in what we heard; making an informed decision difficult to achieve.

Tom Myette