Plans for Lamoine subdivision found complete, public access discussed

LAMOINE — An application for an 11-lot subdivision along the Jordan River was found complete by the Planning Board Monday night, pending the fulfillment of conditions by the applicant, Maine Woodland Properties.

At that meeting, the board and applicant also discussed how public access to the Jordan River would be maintained if the subdivision was built.

According to the town’s Building and Land Use Ordinance, a “proposed subdivision shall provide sufficient open space for the use of residents of the subdivision and, if agreed upon by the subdivider and the board, the use of the general public.”

Per the ordinance, public access may be required for “geographic or historic features” that the board deems “to be significant public resources.”

Additionally, the ordinance states that the board may require the subdivider to designate up to 10 percent of the total subdivision as open space.

Throughout the application process, Planning Board Chairman John Holt has been suggesting that the subdivision include public access to the Jordan River due in part to the river’s historical significance to the town.

“It’s part of the heritage of Lamoine,” Holt said, noting that the parcel of land for the subdivision is the largest tract along the river that could be used for public access.

He added that the only people who can currently enjoy the river — and see it — are those who own property along the shore.

Public access also would help maintain the livelihoods of wormers and clammers.

The applicant’s current plan provides for a walking path to the shore and about three parking spaces, less than the potential 10 percent — or roughly 4.5 acres — that the board could require be made publicly available.

“If I don’t end up doing this, there may not ever be access there,” said Michael Emmons, owner of Maine Woodland Properties. He and Jim Boyle, the project’s manager, were present at the meeting.

Planning Board member Richard McMullen said the public access currently proposed by Maine Woodland Properties is sufficient.

“If the town is that interested in access, they should buy one of the lots,” McMullen said. “I think there’s adequate access to the water as far as I’m concerned.”

Conditions that would make the application complete include developing a fire protection plan and redrawing certain boundaries on the proposed map.

Four of the board’s five members voted in favor of deeming the application complete pending its conditions, with Holt abstaining from voting.

Holt told The American that abstaining from voting was “my way of saying I’m unhappy with the provision for common space.”

The applicant now has about two weeks to get the necessary materials to the board to make it on the agenda for the board’s Nov. 1 meeting, which would also include a public hearing regarding the subdivision.

Along with meeting its conditions, Maine Woodland Properties is working on the sale of one of its lots to an abutter, which would make the property an 11-lot subdivision.

Subdivisions in the town with 12 lots and higher require different application standards and greater common space designations.

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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