03 July 2014: Branch Mills Flower & Grain to ignore their water level order

Stephen and Christine Coombs, owners of Branch Mills Flower & Grain and the dam on Branch Pond have finally responded to the recently issued Branch Pond water level order. Their stance is angry and defiant: they declare the order to be illegal and therefore refuse the order in its entirety. They list a number of reasons for this decision, many of which we’re familiar with, having already heard them from Paul Kelley:

The document was originally sent to a long list of people including Commissioner Aho, and Governor LePage. One wonders if their appeal will resonate with our Governor or piss him off?

So now the Department now has TWO water level orders being actively contested by the subject parties. In our case, they’re proceeding carefully and their actions are constrained because of the pending lawsuit; in the case of the Branch Pond water level order, they are under no such constraints: the Coombs have not appealed the order in court, they’ve just said they intend to ignore it. It will be interesting to see how the Department handles this developing situation.

It remains to be seen whether their “You’re no boss of me” approach will be any more successful than Paul Kelley’s “I’ll see you in court” approach. Personally I doubt it. I don’t think either tactic will succeed and it fairly boggles my mind to consider the gall of these dam owners to think they can just thumb their noses at the Department of Environmental Protection with impunity. I expect they will both have their heads handed to them. Sooner rather than later please.

2 thoughts on “03 July 2014: Branch Mills Flower & Grain to ignore their water level order

  1. Colin Caissie

    Wow. They obviously have studied Kelley’s strategy and reviewed his list of successes, and said, “Looks good to me, sign me up.”


    1. George Fergusson Post author

      There’s a decidedly “Tea Party-ish” flavor to the Coombs’ “declaration” (made even more palpable by their quoting from the Declaration of Independence) that is missing from Paul Kelley’s approach, though the arguments are familiar. One thing that is significantly different about the Branch Pond issue is the condition of the dam. In 2011 MEMA indeed characterized the dam as a “Significant Potential Hazard dam” and the Coombs have apparently done nothing to address the serious dam safety issues raised in the report: MEMA Branch Pond Dam Report

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