Consultant hired to keep Naples Causeway vibrant

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Mike Morse has represented the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) during numerous Shoreland Zoning violations in southern Maine. Morse was the go-to guy when local code enforcement needed advice or a second opinion on how to proceed with a Shoreland Zoning violation.

Recently, Morse resigned from his post at the DEP and went into the private sector, starting his own business, Morse Environmental Consulting, LLC.

The Town of Naples has decided to contract his services to figure out what can be done to keep the Causeway vibrant and thriving while adhering to Shoreland Zone laws.

Prior to appearing at the Naples Board of Selectmen meeting on Feb. 11, Morse spent time talking to Naples Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Renee Carter.

Naples Town Manager John Hawley introduced him to the selectmen. 

“Both Renee and I would like to consider hiring consultant Mike Morse to help us figure out how to best utilize our zoning in the area impacted by the growth moratorium,” Hawley said.

The selectmen enacted a “growth moratorium” after a building located in the Causeway’s commercial district was redesigned as a private residence.

“Mike, who recently left the Maine Department of Environmental Protection after 20 years is one, if not the only, person who is best qualified to navigate the DEP rules and regulations to assist us with developing options for that area,” Hawley said.

Morse spoke at the podium.

“The desire of the town is [to answer the question] what is the maximum extent we can alter the regulations to work well with the area,” Morse said.

Chairman Jim Grattelo spoke.

“We lost a business building to a house,” he said.

“A municipal/private venture arrangement is not out of the works. Partnering with them to achieve what we want to do” is a good idea, Grattelo said.

Morse responded.

“It sounds like there are additional components other than what Renee spoke about. Another component would be more of a planning component: types of uses, types of commercial uses. We want to better define what that would look like,” Morse said.

The board voted, 5–0, to authorize the town manager to spend $10,000 from the town’s unanticipated expenses fund.

Prior to the vote, the board discussed the cost of Morse’s services as well as the unanticipated expenses fund. 

“Mike sent me a rate per hour. He offered a couple of options. In order to hire Mike, we would take funds from the unanticipated expenses account,” Hawley said.

“The amount — that is what we don’t know,” he said, suggesting $10,000.

Selectman Bob Caron II asked how much was in the unanticipated expenses fund.

“It seems like every meeting, we keep taking a little bit out. We have a month and a half of winter left. I want to make sure not to go back to taxpayers” and ask for more money, Caron said.

“I know we are fine but the taxpayers only gave us $25,000,” he said.

Please follow and like us: