Public comment on the town of Alna’s options for remediating unpermitted gravel added to the Pinkham Pond boat launch will continue for a third meeting, following disagreement at the second continuation on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
Discussion on the pond was scheduled for the regular Aug. 24 meeting of the board, which members voted to continue after disruption on other agenda items.
Before the Aug. 30 meeting formally began, board Chair Ed Pentaleri suggested moving the Pinkham Pond item to the agenda of the following week’s meeting.
He said that he did not send out a Zoom link for the continuance with enough time for all residents to know how to join. Pentaleri apologized and said he made the suggestion to move the meeting on advice of legal counsel.
Board member Coreysha Stone said she did not want to continue pushing the topic back, as residents in the room that evening may not have been able to make it to the next week’s meeting. Several had attended at the request of the town’s road committee.
After discussion, board member Steven Graham agreed with Stone’s suggestion to open the meeting, allow public comment, close the meeting, and continue it for a third time on Thursday, Sept. 7.
In response to an audience question from resident Jeff Spinney, Pentaleri said the Zoom access was an issue because the meeting was a continuance of a regular select board meeting. Regular board meetings allow resident comment, unlike previous working meetings that continued despite Zoom issues because they do not permit public participation.
Board members said audience members would have three minutes to speak in total and could use that time either that night or at the continued meeting.
“People who speak this week will not be speaking next week,” Stone said.
According to an update from Graham following a site visit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection representatives, the town could file for a retroactive permit by rule or “correct” the construction.
The town would also need to file with the planning board, as the work is within the shoreland zone.
If Alna decides to remove the gravel, the DEP would monitor it for destabilization, according to Graham. Runoff at the site is not the town’s responsibility to address, but other steps could be taken with neighbors, he said.
Graham said most residents do not want any expansion of uses for the pond. The board will decide on how to correct the issue after hearing public comment on Sept. 7, according to Graham and Stone.
Public comments were limited, with audience members saying they would wait until the next week’s meeting to use their speaking time.
Spinney asked how the public could comment when it does not know what the town would allow and how Alna would decide a path between state statute and town ordinances. He suggested it would be more efficient for the town to determine its options before seeking public input.
Pentaleri said the DEP decided it would either require a permit by rule or a removal. According to Pentaleri, the department “would never have required any work like that” be done to the site.
In response to audience question, Graham said a suggestion at previous meetings that resident volunteers remove the gravel was submitted to the DEP and found “not acceptable.”
Stone said the board was “taking in creative ideas” that evening and will do the same at the continued meeting.
The Alna Select Board’s next regular meeting begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7 in the town office and by Zoom.