A month after the Boothbay Board of Appeals rescinded a permit allowing a $30 million expansion at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and issued a “stop work” order for any further construction, the board will meet again soon to hear CMBG’s request for reconsideration.

Board members also plan to discuss whether the organization has complied with terms of the stop-work order.

The board had planned to meet Tuesday, but postponed its meeting because of bad weather. A new date had yet to be posted Tuesday afternoon.

The scrutiny comes near the middle of the botanical gardens’ six-week Gardens Alive light show, which is expected to draw 90,000 visitors by the end of the year, according to Director of Marketing Kris Folsom.

After nearly a year of arguing among attorneys, abutters and the Boothbay Regional Water District, the Board of Appeals voted 3-2 on Nov. 9 in favor of an appeal filed by CMBG’s neighbors.

Jodie and Vaughan Anthony, their sons Jason and Kevin, and Paula Ragsdale, argued that the project, which is well under way, would further degrade the water quality of nearby Knickerbocker Lake, already listed by the state as “most at risk from new development.”

William Cullina, executive director at the botanical gardens, said the expansion was necessary to accommodate the crowds that attend Gardens Aglow each year. Last year, the light show drew 75,000 visitors.

In December 2016, despite loud objections by neighbors and the Boothbay Region Water District, the town’s Planning Board approved the project, which will include a new visitor center and gift shop, a restaurant in the existing visitor center, a 16,000-square-foot horticulture research and production facility, and a nearly six-story conservatory, along with expanded parking, formal gardens and trails.

But to make that happen, large swaths of wetlands — including 6.2 acres of “critical terrestrial habitat of eight significant vernal pools” — have been permanently altered.

While the board agreed in November with CMBG on all but one of the appeal’s points, it rescinded the permit when members voted in favor of the appellants’ argument that the botanical gardens had classified itself as a museum rather than an educational facility — a use that is not permitted in the watershed.

Following the board’s decision, codes enforcement officer Art Dunlap on Nov. 17 issued a “stop work” order, requiring that CMBG and its agents “cease and desist” all “construction, alterations, repairs or use” at the botanical gardens.

Dunlap noted two exceptions: CMBG was allowed to use completed parking lots in the watershed overlay zone during Gardens Aglow, but “must immediately stop all use (aside from uses necessary to maintain vegetation or to prevent erosion or other environmental harms: of all areas within the watershed overlay zone upon conclusion of Gardens Aglow.”

While CMBG was allowed to continue construction in all areas outside the watershed overlay zone, no construction was allowed within the watershed overlay zone without necessary approvals.

But neighbors say CMBG violated the order shortly after it was issued.

“CMBG was paving, operating earth-moving equipment, busting up ledge and doing about whatever else they wanted within the watershed,” Jason Anthony wrote in an email Monday.

“This is an unprecedented action,” Anthony continued. “Never in the history of this town, to my knowledge, has an entity been allowed to keep working after their permit is denied. Clearly there are two sets of rules here — one for wealthy landowners and one for the rest of us.”

After neighbors complained about the ongoing work, on Dec. 4, Dunlap issued an amended “stop work” order, which included input from a Department of Environmental Protection team that had visited the site.

The new order requires written permission for any work within the watershed and required that all erosion control measures within the watershed be completed by Dec. 8.

Folsom wrote in an email Monday to the Bangor Daily News that the order was amended “to clarify boundaries and incorporate DEP requirements for continued stormwater stabilization in the watershed overlay zone.”

“The only work under way in the watershed overlay zone under the original and amended stop-work order is for stabilization and stormwater controls per approval of the DEP and the town of Boothbay,” she wrote.

In a Dec. 8 letter to the board, attorney Mary E. Costigan, representing the botanical gardens, argued, “The hearings were deeply flawed procedurally. … One member was consistently intemperate, bullying and confrontational, even with the board’s own legal counsel.”

She wrote of procedural errors and inappropriate communications, and argued, “Legally, the board simply got it wrong.”

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