letter to the editor

Vote yes on articles 4 and 5 on the Union ballot concerning mining

Sat, 06/10/2023 - 8:30pm

I write to offer a different perspective to that expressed by Union Select Board member Bill Packard in his letter of June 4 regarding CARMA and mineral mining in Union.

As a Union resident who volunteered to help CARMA circulate the citizen petition to place an amendment to the land use ordinance on the June ballot, I object to Mr Packard's assertion that "[t]he people who circulated and signed the petition in Union disregarded the code enforcement office and, more importantly, thumbed their nose at the Planning Board".

This statement implies an intentional and universal contempt for Union's staff and elected officials — a contempt that I've found utterly absent in all my conversations with both CARMA members and fellow citizens, and a contempt I myself certainly do not hold.
Indeed, I served on a municipal board for six years and I concur with Mr Packard that folks who serve in these roles are generally dedicated and hard-working. No one involved with CARMA has any interest in denigrating or circumventing the municipal legislative process, or municipal staff and elected officials.  CARMA has always been interested in and willing to work cooperatively with the town officials. But the towns were not prepared to act as expeditiously as CARMA.
CARMA consists of local citizens who raised money at the grassroots level in Union and Warren, sought out the best and most experienced municipal land use attorney they could find, and handed the Union and Warren planning and select boards a road map for an expeditious, and legally sound and defensible implementation of a land use ordinance amendment. All of this work was intended to assist and support our municipalities, not circumvent them.
During this time, the Canadian mining exploration company Exiro has not been sitting idle.

It's been verified that at least five additional property owners (in addition to Robbin’s Lumber) have been approached about making their land available. The longer Union and Warren take to enact a decisive ban on commercial metals mining, the more financial footing Exiro will purchase in our communities and the more influence they will exert.

One cannot help but consider as an omen the present situation with Central Maine Power, which seeks to override the 2021 citizen referendum results (against the proposed CMP utility corridor), arguing they should be allowed to proceed despite the wishes of the people of Maine since they have already invested so heavily in the corridor project. It would be a travesty if our failure to act expeditiously and decisively on the metals mining question opened the way for Exiro to one day attempt to make the same argument.
Half a century ago, the Maine constitution was specifically amended to empower Maine citizens to participate directly in the legislative process by using a petition to place legislation before the voters. We are one of the few states to enshrine that right, and the work of CARMA and citizen volunteers and petition signers is an example of that constitutional right in action. I urge my fellow citizens to go to the polls on Tuesday June 13, and vote YES on both articles 4 and 5 on the ballot.

Susan W. Springer lives in Union