LINCOLNVILLE, Maine — Two neighbors who live close to where a gun and ammunition business is to be opened at Ararat Farms in Lincolnville have appealed its approval by the Planning Board on the grounds that they did not receive proper notification by the applicant.
The Lincolnville Board of Appeals discussed the matter at a meeting held online via Zoom on Tuesday night. But their decision was postponed when high winds knocked out power at the town office and around the community, putting a sudden end to the meeting.
The board will conclude its discussion and decide whether to rescind the approval and remand the permit back to the Planning Board at a meeting to be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
“The basis of our appeal is that as abutters, we were not notified,” Pat Shannon said.
She and her spouse, Teresa Mack, did receive an envelope via FedEx from the applicant, Garo Armen, who owns the farm and wants to open the firearms business there. But they received it a day after the Planning Board’s meeting on Dec. 9, 2020, during which board members reviewed the application and found that it met the community’s standards and criteria.
In order to send a comment to the Planning Board, Shannon said they would have had to receive the notice two weeks prior to the meeting.
“I believe the only way to address the many irregularities is to void the Planning Board’s approval of Mr. Armen’s application, remand it back to the Planning Board and hear a new review from beginning to end,” Shannon said.
Armen, a chemist and businessman, founded a biotechnology company in the 1990s to develop therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases. He and his wife also started the Children of Armenia Fund in 2003 to empower rural Armenians. In 2010, Armen purchased the former Kelmscott Farm, known for its efforts to save rare heritage livestock breeds from extinction.
At a Planning Board meeting on Nov. 12, Armen said he wanted to operate a speciality firearms and ammunition business at the farm. It would be open mostly by appointment only, he said, with the option of opening it for regular business between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturdays. He said he had already installed appropriate safeguards, including an alarm and a commercial-grade safe, and that he had applied for a federal firearms dealer’s license.