Lamoine wins lawsuit on gravel pit setback



LAMOINE — A judge ruled in favor of the town of Lamoine on Feb. 13 in a lawsuit filed by gravel pit operators contesting rules in the town’s 2013 gravel ordinance.

Citing inadequate evidence that 2013 setback rules for gravel pits would economically harm the companies — in this case, Harold MacQuinn Inc., Doug Gott and Sons Inc. and John W. Goodwin Inc. — Judge Richard Mulhern of Cumberland County’s Business and Consumer Court decided in favor of Lamoine.

The setback rules at issue required multiple changes: gravel pit operators needed to increase the boundary line of a pit from 50 feet to 100 feet, install a 150-foot boundary from private drinking water supply and add a 1,000-foot setback from any public water supply.

There also was a shift in what abutting landowners were allowed to grant the pit operators. Prior to the 2013 ordinance, operators could reduce their setback to 10 feet with written permission from a neighboring landowner. The new rules allowed a neighbor to reduce the setback to 50 feet from 100.

The gravel companies argued in their lawsuit that they had “a reasonable expectation that they would be able to use the parts of their properties” in question. The judge dismissed this claim, saying that the boundary increase should have been expected by the pit owners.

The gravel companies “are undoubtedly disappointed by the town’s decision to increase the setback requirement,” Mulhern wrote in his decision, “but they cannot have reasonably expected to extract gravel up to the previously mandated margins indefinitely.”

Deputy Town Clerk Stu Marckoon said he didn’t know of any plans for an appeal from the gravel companies. The companies’ lawyer couldn’t be reached for comment.

“For the town,” Marckoon said, “it means that this lawsuit is, at this point, over. It means the potential threat of reimbursing the various plaintiffs for unconstitutional takings is over. That was a pretty substantial amount of money that was tied up in that … to the town, the outcome was economically viable.”

The case was handled electronically, Marckoon said, meaning the sides didn’t have to travel to Cumberland County for the suit. They did meet a couple times in Bangor before it was shifted to the Cumberland County court.

Jack Dodson
Jack Dodson began working for The Ellsworth American in mid-2017, and covers eastern Hancock and western Washington counties. He grew up in the Mid-coast region before living in New York City for five years, where he freelanced in documentary filmmaking and journalism. He is particularly interested in criminal justice, environment and immigration reporting.

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