Waterfront Park permit rescinded as board upholds Doyles’ appeal

Mon, 04/03/2023 - 12:15pm

The Boothbay Harbor Board of Appeals upheld an appeal March 30 by concluding the planning board did not sufficiently document reasoning behind granting Eastside Waterfront Park a permit. The board of appeals twice remanded questions back to the planning board seeking its rationale for approval, and nearly issued a third remand March 9 before tabling the decision. Instead, the board of appeals wanted to review records via planning board minutes from Nov. 10, 2021 and Nov. 23, 2021. 

Board of Appeals members Rosemary Bourette, Lawrence Rebel and Chairman Wendy Wolf reviewed written records and listened to the two-hour and 25 minute Nov. 10, 2021 planning board meeting recording. They all reached the same conclusion. 

“I can’t find where the planning board addressed the ‘Greatest Practical Extent’ criteria of the shoreland zone ordinance,” Wolf said. “So I find there isn’t sufficient evidence in the record supporting the planning board’s decision.”

On Jan. 31, the board of appeals received its first remand response from the planning board. The appeals board sought answers to four questions. Question 1 asked “Did the planning board consider all proposed parking sites? And this should be made clear.” Question 2 sought a planning board determination on whether parking is proposed on the concrete pier, if the structure is rebuilt, and will it be for a different purpose? 

Question 3 asked: “Should the planning board consider a communication from the Department of Environmental Protection delivered with its order and determine whether concerns raised require altering the decision?” Question 4 asked: “If the planning board reviewed all required project permits and were later verified and updated?” The appeals board was satisfied with responses to questions two, three and four, and denied Joe and Jill Doyle’s appeal on those aspects.

But Question 1 question about a proposed 12-vehicle parking spot in the southerly section. So a second remand letter was sent to the planning board. On March 9, the appeals board received the planning board’s response, but, again, it did not completely answer concerns regarding greatest practical extent. 

Attorney Kristin Collins represented the Doyles in their appeal. She complimented the appeals board for its March 9 conclusion that previous remand responses did not satisfy the questions. “There is not enough in the finding of fact to know what the planning board was looking at. Twice, they had an opportunity to provide more explanation. So it’s an obvious, there are no facts supporting their conclusion,” she said.

Attorney Joseph Siviski represented Eastside Waterfront Park. He disagreed with the board’s conclusion. Siviski pointed toward information in the site plan review as containing all of the relevant information. He also disputed whether the appeal should be centered around greatest practical extent. 

“When the appellate submitted their appeal in December 2021, there was no mention of greatest practical extent. So the appeals board shouldn’t review that standard,” he said. 

Following the March 30 decision rescinding the permit, Eastside Waterfront Park President John O’Connell did not know the organization’s next step. “I don’t know. We have to talk to Joe (Siviski) first,” he said. 

In a statement sent to the Boothbay Register April 3, Collins, on behalf of the Doyles, credited the appeals board for “taking seriously” shoreland development restrictions. “Though we know this decision is frustrating for Boothbay Harbor Waterfront Park, it is an opportunity to think about how the park can be made as environmentally friendly as possible. The Doyles have always been proponents of the park use and just wanted to ensure the park was safe, green and held to the same environmental standards as all development,” Collins wrote. “To that end, they are willing to offer a significant donation to the park to be used for professional design engineering and other work needed to provide the 80%green space required by shoreland zoning and meet other environmental standards.  We are hopeful that this turn of events will provide an opening for the parties to work collaboratively to make the park happen.”