TREMONT — Representatives of the proposed Pointy Head Campground project withdrew their administrative appeal during the second phase of a hearing before the town’s Board of Appeals on Jan. 7.
During the first phase of the Board of Appeals hearing in December, members of the board unanimously denied a variance appeal from the campground’s representatives before tabling the administrative appeal to seek assistance from the town’s attorney. In determining whether there was basis for an appeal, board members wanted to understand how the town’s Land Use Ordinance and Site Plan Review Ordinance were to be considered in proposed construction projects.
A site plan review application was denied by the Planning Board for the 15-acre property at 158 Harbor Drive in September. Four incomplete components of the application were reasons for the denial, but a couple of them refer to standards outlined in the Land Use Ordinance. Those incomplete components included access to the proposed campground site, stormwater management, natural features (including buffering) and shoreland relationship, which determines development of the property will not adversely affect water quality and the shoreline of the adjacent harbor.
There were two different appeals filed by property owner Madelon Brogdon and project manager Jeff Crafts regarding the Planning Board’s decision, a variance appeal and an administrative appeal.
In the variance appeal, Brogdon and Crafts state denying use of the only driveway on the property would cause undue hardship. That driveway is situated in the Commercial Fisheries and Maritime Activities zone while the proposed campground site sits in the Residential-Business zone.
According to the Planning Board’s decision to deny the application in September, use of the driveway for non-CFMA purposes is prohibited. According to Attorney Ed Bearor, who represented Brogdon/Crafts, the appellants in the hearing, the town’s Land Use Ordinance states motorized vehicular use is permitted.
“Motorized vehicular use on existing roads and trails, yes, that’s allowed in CFMA zones,” said Bearor. “So there’s no legal impediment to using that driveway to get to the balance of Madelon’s property that, for better or worse, is not in the CFMA zone.”
Members of the Board of Appeals upheld the Planning Board’s decision by unanimously denying the variance appeal in December.
Attorney Dan Pillegi, who represents several neighbors of the campground proposed at 158 Harbor Drive, stated during the initial hearing the two ordinances are meant to complement one another, with the stricter standard being the default. Bearor pointed out that neither ordinance contains language that defers to the other in aspects of a project where it’s unclear what standards should be followed.
“There’s nothing in the site plan review ordinance that implicates the land use ordinance,” he pointed out during the December hearing. “You look at the submission requirements, there’s no mention there of describing what zone your property is in, none, zero, zilch… The two ordinances are not interrelated. Now, maybe they should be. But that’s not our job.”
During the 2019 annual Town Meeting, voters approved creating a Site Plan Review Ordinance for the town, as well as an amendment to the Land Use Ordinance. Former Code Enforcement Officer John Larson recommended separating aspects of the Site Plan Review Ordinance from the town’s Land Use Ordinance in order for projects to be reviewed under the appropriate ordinance. Site plan review ordinances are meant to focus on large, commercial development projects.
When the ordinances were separated, Larson was remiss in creating two separate applications for building projects going before the Planning Board.
“The applicant should have two application reviews,” said Sandy Andrews, an alternate to the Board of Appeals who attended the hearing the previous week. “What the Planning Board did instead was it took an application and reviewed it under both.”
When Bearor stated the administrative appeal would be withdrawn, he stated they were doing so with the intent of going back to the Planning Board to have the project reviewed under the town’s Land Use Ordinance.
“Going forward, there will be two applications until voters fix this mess,” town attorney James Collier said during the hearing, noting that he had recommended that be the town’s protocol after speaking with Code Enforcement Officer Jesse Dunbar.