LINCOLNVILLE, Maine — Neighbors of a proposed gun and ammunition business in Lincolnville did not receive proper notice from the developer, the Board of Appeals said last week, so the application is being sent back to the Planning Board to be reevaluated.
The appeals board made its decision after hearing an administrative appeal from two neighbors who said they didn’t receive notice that the Planning Board was meeting about the proposal until the day after the board had voted to grant a permit for it.
“It’s basically a do-over,” David Kinney, Lincolnville town administrator, said Thursday. “It’s going back to at least the point where notices are provided, which is basically the beginning.”
The applicant, Garo Armen, had been told by the town he needed to notify people who live close to the proposed business that the Planning Board was going to review and vote on the site plan application.
But neighbors Pat Shannon and Teresa Mack didn’t receive a letter from Armen until Dec. 10, 2020, the day after the board met and gave the project the greenlight to move forward.
It will be up to Armen to get his project back on the Planning Board’s agenda and to notify all the abutters, Kinney said. The board will need to review the application for completeness, and then have a subsequent meeting to decide if it meets town requirements.
A phone call to Armen at Ararat Farms was not returned this week.
When the Board of Appeals held a public hearing about the issue on Zoom on March 1, it was the first time in two years the volunteer board had needed to meet, Kinney said. That meeting was interrupted by a power outage, and when the board resumed its session later that week, they unanimously concluded that Armen had not provided all the required notices and that the Planning Board’s decision to approve the site plan application was contrary to the provisions of the town’s land use ordinance.
Armen, a chemist and businessman, founded a biotechnology company in the 1990s to develop therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases. In 2010, Armen purchased the former Kelmscott Farm, known for its efforts to save rare heritage livestock breeds from extinction, and renamed it Ararat Farms.
He told the Planning Board in November that he wanted to operate a specialty 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.