The Alna Planning Board denied Jeff Spinney’s application for a shoreland zoning permit Monday, June 29, but Spinney will ask the board to reconsider.
Spinney applied for the permit to build a boat ramp and docks for his private Golden Ridge Sportsman’s Club at his 126 Golden Ridge Road property, on the Sheepscot River.
Before Monday’s meeting, Spinney and his attorney, Kristin Collins, withdrew the dock from the application. At a June 23 meeting, the planning board had determined that the dimensions of the dock were too large to be permitted.
The board reviewed letters from Alna residents and previous owners of Spinney’s property to determine if an existing boat ramp is a legally nonconforming structure – that is, a structure that violates the existing ordinance but is legal because it predates Alna’s 1993 shoreland zoning ordinance. To meet that requirement, there would have to be clear evidence that the ramp had been used and maintained consistently.
A vote on the question was a tie, 2-2. Tom Albee and Taylor McGraw voted that the ramp is a legally nonconforming structure, while Jim Amaral and Laurie Hiestand voted that it is not.
According to town attorney Amanda Meader, the tie meant that the motion failed and the application was denied.
The vote followed numerous public meetings on the project with extensive testimony from the public.
Opponents of the project say it violates local ordinances and would bring development and noise to a pristine stretch of river. Criticism has also focused on Spinney’s role as chair of the planning board, although he has recused himself from consideration of the project.
At a June 18 meeting, Meader said she expected any decision by the board to eventually go to court through the appeals process.
Collins, in an email the morning after the meeting, said she and Spinney will ask the planning board to reconsider the decision. She said a packet of letters compiled by Amaral and reviewed during the meeting omitted two letters that show continuous use of the ramp.
Spinney said in an email that the meeting was “incredibly inappropriate” because the board did not review all the materials on record. He said Amaral was “seemingly acting either with an agenda or is just horribly misinformed and only presenting a portion of the information from the record.”