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Originally published in Castine Patriot, March 6, 2014
Abutters unhappy with approval for golf club irrigation pond

by Anne Berleant

An application submitted by the Castine Golf Club to create an irrigation pond drew fire from one of its neighbors, as did the board’s approval of the project.

Pär and Gunilla Kettis, whose property abuts the golf course near the planned pond, and who share a culvert with the club, requested that board approval include a condition that the club be responsible for maintaining the culvert.

Pär Kettis, who is vice chairman of the board, recused himself from the February 20 meeting. In the absence of Chairman Douglas Wellington, Tom Comiciotto acted as chairman.

Approximately seven to 10 feet of the culvert—referred to throughout the meeting as ‘ditch,’ ‘culvert’ and ‘stream’—lies on Kettis’s property but is also part of the golf course fairway. The golf club currently maintains all of the culvert. The Kettises want that to continue and want an agreement to do so to be part of the planning board’s approval of the project.

“We have a responsibility to keep our ditch clean. We don’t have to keep your part clean,” said Marty Tenney, golf club board secretary.

Historically, the Kettises have not objected to the golf club use of that strip of property.

“We just tolerate that the golf club uses it,” Par Kettis said. “Evidently we can take it back any day.”

He then raised the issue of liability: “[There’s] one unclear point, responsibility for players if something happens” on that strip of property.

“Liability is a separate issue,” said Comiciotto. “It can’t be solved here….[It] has been there for years but has surfaced because of this project.”

The planning board also saw maintaining the flow of water runoff through the culvert as a maintenance issue to be addressed between the two neighbors in a separate agreement.

“This committee does not have the authority to do that,” said Code Enforcement Officer Drew Marks.

The proposed irrigation pond would be seven feet deep, hold 136,000 gallons and cover 4,800 square feet “when full,” said engineer Andrew McCullough. A pump will be installed, and McCullough does not anticipate the pond will increase runoff into the culvert.

“We’re creating a reservoir that isn’t there now,” he said. Later, he stated that maintenance of the culvert “is key,” but such maintenance may not violate the Department of Environmental Protection regulations for wetlands.

The board agreed that the culvert only had to be clear for the construction of the pond in order for the project to meet approval criteria.

“At this time, as part of this project, the ditch needs to be cleaned out,” said Marks.

“The streams don’t work properly at this time,” said Pär Kettis. “We get the flow. We don’t want the water to come over to us. That is something for the planning board to take care of.”

When it came to a vote to approve, board members considered putting in a recommendation that an agreement be formed between the Kettises and the golf club, but ultimately did not.

“If we think [the project] complies, we vote ‘yes.’ If we don’t, we vote ‘no,’” said Bob Friedlander.

The board unanimously approved the project. Pär Kettis held that according to approval criteria, the board should not have approved and said he would appeal the decision.