MBNA request easement deadline extension; plans soccer field for Northport land

By Lynda Clancy | Mar 31, 2000

Northport — Credit card company MBNA is working with the Rockport-based Coastal Mountains Land Trust to create a conservation easement on the company's Northport land, as required by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection. The company also is asking the state deadline for the work be extended to June 15.

Shane Flynn, MBNA's regional director, said Thursday that his company will update the BEP on April 6 about its easement when the board convenes in Augusta for a regularly scheduled meeting.

In a letter to the BEP chair John Tewhey sent March 30, MBNA attorney Philip Ahrens of Pierce, Atwood in Portland, said: "MBNA requests that the board reconsider on its own motion the date by which MBNA must submit a conservation easement 'for review, acceptance, and recording' within the two-week timeframe required by the board."

The BEP had voted at its March 16 meeting to turn down an appeal by Coastal Waters Project of a December permit granted by the Department of Environmental Protection for an MBNA building project on Ducktrap Mountain.

At that meeting, however, the BEP voted that MBNA establish an easement on a portion of its Northport property, stipulating that the easement be filed with the Department of Environmental Protection by March 30.

Due to DEP processing of that BEP amendment, however, the board's March 16 easement order has yet to be signed. Because the BEP has not actually signed the amended order, Ahrens suggested in his letter that the order will become effective after the BEP's April 6 meeting.

The purpose of the easement is to further protect deer habitat, which has been impacted by the construction of MBNA's 40 recreational cabins on Ducktrap Mountain. Although MBNA had drawn up a deeryard management plan for that habitat, which the DEP approved, the BEP requested additional protection, a motion that came as a surprise to MBNA.

Although MBNA had been in discussions with land trusts about conservation efforts on the property prior to the BEP ruling two weeks ago, drawing up an easement is a complex process, said Scott Dickerson, executive director of the Coastal Mountains Land Trust.

Ahrens wrote to the BEP: "In short, a conservation plan is first developed that describes the property and the anticipated terms of the conservation easement; after approval of the plan a conservation easement is drafted; the conservation easement is reviewed, redrafted, and submitted to the CMLT Land Preservation Committee; site visits are conducted; the conservation easement is further reviewed and revised and submitted to the CMLT for approval."

He continued: "In short, despite the best efforts by all parties, the process by which a conservation easement is proposed, developed, considered, and approved is a lenghty process, which cannot be accomplished within the two-week timeframe imposed by the board."

Dickerson said CMLT and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust have been working with MBNA on its easement, which will include placing in permanent protection approximately 160 acres of deeryard management area. He said the easement requires documentation of the property, some of which could only be completed after the snow melted.

In a letter submitted to MBNA and included in the BEP record, Dickerson said, "Because CMLT is accepting permanent responsibility to uphold these restrictions, all parties involved need to craft the restrictions carefully and deliberately. Though we began developing the Point Lookout Conservation Easement in January, following Charles Cawley's generous offer to conserve the property, we were in the early stages of evaluation and planning when the BEP issued its decision and timeline."

Coastal Waters Project of Rockland, the organization that appealed the DEP permit to build the 40 cabins, this week requested the BEP "initiate proceedings to formally revoke the permit granted to Bracebridge Corporation to construct roads, cabins, and other related infrastructure on Ducktrap Mountain in Northport, Maine."

Coastal Waters maintains the DEP should have received by March 30 a conservation easement document.

In a related development, MBNA has applied with the Department of Environmental Protection to build a soccer field near its fitness center in Northport, according Judy Gates at the DEP.

The application came in on March 22, Gates said, and is under review by her agency, as well as Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The project includes impacting three isolated forested wetlands. The site will require some blasting, Gates said.

Related links:

Coastal Mountains Land Trust.

Coastal Waters Project.

The Maine Board of Environmental Protection.
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