Strategic Class WarFare Heats up On The Boothbay Peninsula
The Working Waterfront Park and the Party of The New but heads again and again!
The other day I was exiting from Back River Road going onto 27. There was no traffic and so I did not complete a full stop before pulling out but was thinking that I should have done so. I turned right toward the roundabout. The roundabout, or the obstruction in the middle of the road as I like to call it, has a different set of rules from all the other intersections on the Peninsula. At the roundabout, where roads were rerouted so that all paths would converge at one point, the rules are that one is not supposed to stop if there is no traffic. It occurred to me that special rules for special folks are a subliminal message of the roundabout that serves no practical purpose other than as a grand entrance to the Country Club that is slowly and visually absorbing the Town Common. The Common occupies the Center of Town and that is where Paul Coulombe wants his wealth culture to be, at the center of everything, dominating all.
I was also aware that changing the rules for one section affects auto-response driving habits by breaking with consistency. Consistency of rules reinforces a subliminal response to automatically come to a full stop at an intersection, but when there is one section of road where the rules suddenly change it confuses our subliminal automated responses.
I imagine the Party of the New meeting in their private clubhouse on the hill where the initiation fee recently increased from 25000.00 to 30000.00. Paul Coulombe holds court surrounded by his chorus. There in their secluded domain, they plan their takeover of the Peninsula. They brand themselves as benevolent benefactors but their toxic behavior betrays them.
In the latest episode, Patty Minerich publishes a letter to the editor. Browsing through the local news, the intention becomes apparent.
After Joe and Jill Doyle bought the property abutting the Working Waterfront Park the Doyles started a war against their neighbor by launching legal appeals against the Park’s permit and publishing a website that repeats and expands upon the allegations made in the appeals. The name of the Doyle’s website is so similar to the name of the Park’s website that when googling the Park, the Doyle’s website appears in the top position. The Doyles write letters to the Register berating the Park and run a banner ad for their website dedicated to attacking the Park that streams across the top of the Boothbay Register website.
Consistently the Party of the New uses the logic of misapplied generalizations. Patty Minerich scolds an unidentified commenter for referring to the Doyles, as “people from away” saying that the Doyles have deep Maine roots. The Doyles are from the Lewiston Auburn area and reside in Florida for part of the year. They do not have deep roots in the Boothbay Region where the long-standing joke is that unless you were born here you are from away, but you have to have deep roots in the region to know about that, or at least spend time in the greater community beyond the confines of a private club where everyone agrees.
In a 2016 Letter to the Editor, Joe Doyle used the same over-generalized logic to make the case that the Boothbay roundabout was a “safety issue” in fact safety should be the only issue according to Joe who writes ”Safety should be the only issue, not politics. It’s proven that replacing a standard intersection with a single-lane roundabout leads to a reduction in injuries and fatalities, both through the safer traffic pattern and the lowered speed of vehicles transiting through” avoiding all specifics about the actual situation in Boothbay, where the roundabout did not replace a standard intersection, it replaced a four-way stop in low-volume traffic area off to the side of the high volume traffic where the roundabout is currently located. What do statistics have to say about the probability of accidents per traffic volume?
Nor does Mr. Doyle’s generalized statistical argument address why the roundabout should be placed at an intersection that was then a one-way street intersecting the otherwise unobstructed main throughway. Nor did Joe Doyle’s generalized statistical argument address why the actually dangerous intersection at the corner of Country Club Road, also serving the Town dump, and intersecting with the main thruway and an entry and exit to another busy business was never addressed in the selling of the out of the way four-way stop as so dangerous that the entire infrastructure at the Center of Boothbay had to be reworked for “safety reasons”- not for political purposes. Nor does Mr. Doyle’s letter address the other option to slowing the traffic down, placing a traffic light at the intersection of Country Club Road and Route 27, bringing us to another strategy used by the Party of the New- eliminating the discussion in the public conversation of any options to what they are selling.
Back to the latest episode, wherein Patty Minerich publishes a letter to the editor. What strategy is at work? For an answer look to the recent letter sent by the Doyle’s lawyer to the Boothbay Planning Board. The article in the newspaper does not go into detail about what the letter is about, other than the letter asked the board when it expected to hear back from the planning board on a remand review of a site plan approval made for the Doyles’ abutter, Boothbay Harbor Waterfront Preservation. In other words, the Doyles are asking the permit process to be reopened as Ms. Minerich echoes in her own letter Another option, in which Ms. Minerich presents her plans for the Park.
The timeline of events leading up to this is here. In Short, the Doyles appealed the Working Waterfront Park’s permit multiple times and lost multiple times. One of the claims rested on the interpretation of the DEP response based on the claim that the parking lot is “new”, but the DEP has recently reversed this opinion. A great deal of the Doyles ravings against the Park is based on allegations of violation of DEP standards and rules- relying on the interpretation of the parking lot as new, rather than, as argued by the Park’s attorney, a replacement parking lot that is relocated, not a new structure, and noting the ordinance provides for relocation and replacement of a nonconforming structure. That’s what BHWP did with the parking lot. source
The January 13, 2022 Meeting Minutes include a finding of fact from the Nov 17 meeting:
Board deliberation and review of Findings of Fact: The Chair noted that Appeals Board members had received copies of the Planning Board’s November 17, 2021 review which outlined the Findings of Fact.
Board Action: Based on the findings above, it was moved and seconded that this shoreland zoning permit decision be remanded back to the Planning Board to provide clarity about parking and the permitting by the DEP and others. There was no additional discussion. The motion passed unanimously (4-0). Mr. Anderson noted that new evidence has recently been provided by the Maine DEP that could inform the remanded Planning Board review. He suggested the order to remand should specifically include the more recent information submitted by the DEP and others.
The Doyle’s attorney said in the November 17, 2021 meeting that findings regarding an October 13, 2021 email from Colin Clark from the Maine DEP should be specifically included but Clark reversed his opinion before the January 13. 2022 meeting. The reversal was not allowed to be considered in January as the Planning Board has not yet seen it and so the Doyle’s attorney used the opinion in the October 13 email to support his argument, even though he knew it had been reversed.
Town of Boothbay Harbor BOARD OF APPEALS Meeting via Zoom Thursday, January 13, 2022 Meeting Minutes
Presentation by the Parties: • Attorney Scott Anderson, Verrill Dana LLP, representing Joseph and Jill Doyle.
Mr. Anderson indicated that the issue before the Appeals Board is whether the Planning Board made any errors in its review. He noted there were several issues that should lead the Appeals Board to vacate the decision. Since it is in the shoreland zone, this project must comply with the 20% cap on impervious surface as specified in the ordinance. Mr. Anderson questioned the applicant’s interpretation of the lot being grandfathered as the rationale to exceed the 20% cap, particularly since they are proposing new structures and new uses.
The main issue raised by the appellate is the new parking lot, which does not meet the 75 foot set back. Mr. Anderson indicated that in an October 13, 2021 email, Colin Clark from the Maine DEP outlined his concerns about the location of the parking lot, and indicated this structure needed to meet the shoreland zone setback requirement. Mr. Anderson noted that this email was part of the Planning Board record. source
At the top of the Jan 13, 2022 record is a note about new correspondence recently received by the DEP that could not be considered at the time of the administrative appeal:
The Chair noted that the town and members of the Appeals Board recently received additional correspondence from the Maine DEP as well as from Attorneys Anderson and Siviski regarding the BHWP building permit request and the subsequent Planning Board decision. Since this information was not available to the Planning Board, this more recent correspondence is not part of the active record and cannot be considered as part of this administrative appeal review. source
The new correspondence reversed the opinion of the DEP used by the Doyles attorney to support their argument.
Clark reiterated his position in a letter on the morning of Jan. 13 for the appeals board’s consideration as it reviewed the park and marina building approval. However, Clark clarified his comments on the parking lot in a letter to BHWP on June 22. Clark said if the town determines the parking is not new and is viewed as a relocation or reconstruction of an existing nonconforming structure per the town’s ordinance, it would be an alternative interpretation not likely to be challenged by DEP. ( emphasis by author)
“In light of the lack of clarity, I do not expect the Department would second guess the town’s interpretation of its ordinance. If the town interprets the nonconforming structure provisions as applying, evaluation of whether the proposed parking conforms to all the setback requirements to the greatest practical extent would be an important part of the town’s evaluation.” (empahsis by author) source
Previously, on Nov 17. 2011, the Board Deliberation stated…”Board finds this standard to be met based on the plans submitted, and the parking on the concrete pier is a nonconformity permitted to continue.” …… In addition, the information from the October 13, 2021 email from the Maine DEP raises issues that were not adequately discussed, resolved and then documented by the Planning Board. Mr. Rebel and Ms. Bourette noted concerns about the parking as well noting a lack of clarity about the DEP and NRPA permits. Mr. Cohen agreed that the only parking discussed in the Finding of Fact was the concrete pier.” source
So when Clark wrote” If the town interprets the nonconforming structure provisions as applying”, it wasn’t a matter of if, the Town had already weighed in on the issue. “The Party of the New” is trying to gaslight the procedural process and twist it around so that the permit process can be started all over again. The Party of the New has visions of taking over the Park and designing it to their values and vision as Ms. Minerich expounded upon in her letter.
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There was indeed a decision made to remand the shoreland zoning permit decision back to the Planning board but the reasons for doing so “to provide clarity about parking and the permitting by the DEP and others” have been rendered moot. The others refer to NRPA permits, which I am projecting to be a process in waiting since there has been no news about it and so there would be no point in having a meeting based on a permit still in process. That permit also has not been part of the previous discussions. The Nov 17 deliberation stated that “the only parking discussed in the Finding of Fact was the concrete pier”.
Board Action: Based on the findings above, it was moved and seconded that this shoreland zoning permit decision be remanded back to the Planning Board to provide clarity about parking and the permitting by the DEP and others. There was no additional discussion. The motion passed unanimously (4-0). Mr. Anderson noted that new evidence has recently been provided by the Maine DEP that could inform the remanded Planning Board review. He suggested the order to remand should specifically include the more recent information submitted by the DEP and others. Mr. Cunningham suggested that the Board amend or suggest a new motion that on remand, the Planning Board be authorized to consider new evidence. The Chair proposed a second motion that on remand, the Planning Board is authorized to consider new evidence in their review. The motion was moved, seconded (Cohen, Bourette) and unanimously approved (4-0). source
In the January 13. 2022 meeting The Park’s attorney made these points:
Mr. Siviski presented the intent of the BHWP park and noted that the goal of the park is to create physical and visual public shorefront access. Because this is a water-dependent use, it is BHWP’s argument that all features of the park are also water-dependent uses so the setback does not apply
With respect to the lot coverage requirement, Mr. Siviski noted the Maine DEP agrees with the current proposed lot coverage, noting that the lot went from 86% impervious surface coverage to 29% coverage.
Mr. Siviski noted the BHWP park is classified as an “institutional use” which does not have any lot coverage requirement in the shoreland zone.
Aside from Paul Colombe, the comments on Ms. Minerich’s letter favored the Park. Mr. Coulombe, leader of the pack in the Party of the New entered the conversation with utter toxicity:
Paul Coulombe GDF • 2 days ago
Have you ever seen an uglier park??? What is park like on this piece of land?? It is unusable and atrocious looking!! A real eyesore to the harbor. It’s not helping our fisherman either. Susan Craig created an ugly eyesore that is not functional for anyone at all. Congrats to the Craigs for damaging the harbor and not playing any taxes to the town. Nice job!!
Mr. Coulombe goes on to make disjointed diatribes against the Park alleging that they are in violation of “statutes and laws”. I think he means statutes and ordinances but when I asked him to be more specific, he didn’t meet the bar, but he did give us a clue about the new argument the Party of The New will try to use if they succeed in reopening the review process. The argument is found in this quote from Mr. Coulombe, ”They are in complete violation to DEP. the parking lot cannot be grandfathered because the mandatory parking was for motel that has been razed.”
Of course, it is out and out disinformation that the Park is in complete violation of the DEP while the argument that the parking lot was to be used by the motel, besides being a flimsy argument that attempts to conflate the use of one kind of structure with the use of another kind of structure, was never made by the DEP. Noting the use of the parking lot structure remains the same- for parking cars, and the motel was never used to park cars. Given that the status of the parking lot as a nonconforming structure had already been resolved at the time of the remand order, leaving only the DEP’s concern, and that status was the same at the time when the DEP reversed its opinion- all that is left to resolve is nothing.
That’s my two cents. It remains for the board to resolve.
After Note: Once the Boothbay Waterfront Park published its own timeline of events. I had perceived that I misunderstood the timeline of the delivery of the DEP letter that reversed the initial opinion but at the same time the Waterfront Park’s timeline reasonably supports the supposition that the original opinion issued by the DEP was based on allegations made by the Doyles, this based on the fact that the DEP had not weighed in without even knowing what had been approved by the Planning Board or why.
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Quite a fine kettle of fish, eh?. For a fishing community.
Best Luck Mackenzie. You're fighting the good fight!