The Alna Planning Board plans to vote Monday, June 29 on a shoreland zoning permit necessary to build a boat ramp and dock on the Sheepscot River.
The permit is the last Jeff Spinney needs to build the waterfront facilities for his Golden Ridge Sportsman’s Club. The property is at 126 Golden Ridge Road.
The board had planned to vote Tuesday, June 23, but postponed for another week to further review the application and materials submitted by past owners of Spinney’s property.
Tuesday’s meeting marked the beginning of the board’s final deliberations, following a public hearing Thursday, June 18, itself a continuation of a roughly three-hour hearing May 29.
The planning board identified two main questions it needs to answer prior to a vote – whether the dimensions of Spinney’s dock are too large to be permitted, and whether the launch area on Spinney’s property was considered a structure prior to the town’s enactment of its shoreland zoning ordinance in 1993.
The board determined Tuesday that Spinney’s proposed 8-foot-by-12-foot docks are too wide, and that the width needs to be amended down to 6 feet to meet the specifications of the ordinance.
Spinney said the width is acceptable because he is just replacing pieces of dock that were already present.
“Regardless of the outcome this evening, that dock is going in,” Spinney said. “The use continues.”
The planning board, with town attorney Amanda Meader, closed public comment at the end of the June 18 hearing.
Meader expects whatever decision the board makes to end up in court through the appeals process.
The project has drawn opposition from residents of Alna, Newcastle, and the surrounding area who say it would bring development and an uptick in boating activity to a pristine area of the river.
Critics have said the project does not comply with local ordinances and that it raises concerns about conflicts of interest because Jeff Spinney chairs the planning board and his wife, Melissa Spinney, is first selectman. Both have recused themselves from votes on the project.
On Thursday, Meader and the acting chair of the planning board, Taylor McGraw, prioritized speakers who live in Alna and have not spoken at previous meetings.
Bailey Bolen, an abutter to the north of the Spinneys, said the project would come within 20 feet of his property, a violation of Alna’s building code ordinance.
“We do not consent to this structure and respectfully ask that you deny the boat ramp because it does not comply with the 20-foot setback rule,” Bolen said.
Jonathan Villeneuve, a former Alna selectman, said Spinney’s application misrepresents his own permit application from 2007, as it claims that Villeneuve gained approval for a pier, ramp, and float in the shoreland zone.
Villeneuve said he only received approval to build temporary stairs and seasonal floats, which had to be removed in October.
“I was told at the time that Alna permitted no permanent structures in the shoreland zone, and traditional piers that accompany a ramp and float-type systems were not allowed,” Villeneuve said.
Other residents echoed arguments made at previous meetings, about environmental impact on the river and unequal enforcement of ordinances.
Tim Richards spoke in favor of the proposal. Richards submitted letters to the editor in both The Lincoln County News and the Wiscasset Newspaper, each with more than 70 signatures, in defense of the project and of town officials’ handling of the application.
“This project is totally fine,” Richards said in the meeting. “This project is nothing compared to what’s been going on on the Sheepscot River for years. Totally appropriate, totally within the shoreland zoning ordinances.”
The planning board will meet via Zoom at 6 p.m., Monday, June 29.