ROCKPORT — An abutting neighbor to the new municipal library construction site filed an appeal of the building permit June 11, saying the project fails to “demonstrate compliance with the Town of Rockport’s ordinance.”
Stephen Earle, who recently purchased the house next door to the 1 Limerock Street library site, said the application for the new library, which is currently under construction in Rockport Village and which was filed by the town of Rockport, was not subject to a meaningful review before receiving a May 22 building permit by the Rockport Code Enforcement Office.
The appeal process entails submitting a claim to the Rockport Zoning Board of Appeals. That board convenes a meeting to review the appeal, and if so decides, it can commence a de novo review of the entire permit application process.
If the ZBA approves or overrules the CEO or planning board permit approval, the person appealing that permit then takes the appeal to the Knox County Superior Court.
Earle maintains that the town failed to satisfy multiple performance standards as laid out in the town’s land use ordinance, and which include failure to obtain an permit from the Maine Dept. of Public Safety as complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and failing to meet landscaping and architectural review standards.
Earle, a New York City resident, has retained Patrick Mellor, of the Rockland firm Strout and Payson, as his attorney.
Since the appeal was filed, the chairman of the Rockport ZBA, George Benson, tendered his resignation.
He offered suggestions on how to deal with the library appeal:
“After looking at the application I was made aware of the fact that the issue at hand involves the new library (a multi-million dollar project that has already been started) and as such any decision that is made will most likely be appealed to a higher court. Because of this potential it is prudent that this board NOT be pressured to make decisions that have not been thoroughly thought out. I would encourage each member to demand the time necessary to be prepared. I fear that town officials and others may want this to be dealt with quickly; however, being pressured into moving forward too quickly will most certainly lead to a sloppy outcome that will ultimately be a disservice to everyone. Each board member should carefully review and understand the materials presented and should be given as much guidance as possible from the Town Attorney regarding the steps to take to properly and thoroughly do a ‘de novo’ review.”
He also suggested at the end of his resignation letter (see attached board packet for his complete letter):
“In closing: I know that my resignation is coming at a difficult time but I also know that there are other board members who are intelligent and thoughtful individuals each of which have what it takes to be an asset to this board and to the citizens of this town. Of all of the board members, I have known Terri the longest (she is my neighbor) and I suspect she is the board member with the most experience with our ordinance. However, I would encourage each of you to strongly consider stepping up to the plate and taking the baton of being Chair and Vice-Chair. I would also encourage the Town Officials to return to the days when this board was given the training and its members were given the respect that each of the volunteers deserve so that no decision by this board is ever made in haste.”
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