News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, December 6, 2018
Penobscot ordinance amended for compliance
Commercial timber harvesting changes to be voted on

by Monique Labbe

The Penobscot Planning Board approved amendments to the town’s shoreland zoning ordinance regarding commercial timber harvesting in the shoreland zone after a brief public hearing on December 4.

The changes will now be drafted into a warrant article, which will be put to the board of selectmen to be added to the 2019 town meeting warrant. Residents would vote on that article during town meeting on March 4.

Planning board member Elizabeth Snow said during the public hearing that the changes are being made in order to make the ordinance “more compliant” with state standards.

The changes would turn over timber harvesting enforcement in the shoreland zone to the Maine State Bureau of Forestry.

“Basically, it means that this would relieve the town of having to pay for a forester or the [Code Enforcement Officer] to come in and say ‘no you can’t cut there.’ That would still happen, but it would be paid for by the state instead of the town of Penobscot,” said Snow. “This is a great thing for the town.”

The current ordinance is from 2009, which states that the portions currently being proposed for repeal now “will be repealed.”

“We wrote nine years ago that we would do this, because it was in accordance to state standards that it be done,” said Snow. “We haven’t done it yet, and it needs to be done to get us up to compliance.”

Code Enforcement Officer Luke Chiavelli, who is also the CEO in several other towns including nearby Orland, said that of the towns he covers, Penobscot is the only town whose commercial timber harvest is currently regulated by the town and not the state.

“I know the basics, and I can go into a cut and see things that are obviously wrong, but by putting enforcement into the hands of the state, they’ll send professional foresters in who can say very quickly what is wrong because that’s what they do,” he said.