In response to complaints from a cemetery association that portions of a gravel access road have been grassed over, the Freeport Project Review Board will conduct a site walk of the L.L. Bean Flying Point Paddling Center, 4 Marietta Lane, at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13.

Town Planner Donna Larson said that two years ago, following construction of the the paddling center, portions of the gravel road were filled in, and the Mann Cemetery Association, which oversees Mann Cemetery, complained.

The issue ultimately fell into the hands of Fred Reeder, the town’s code enforcement officer, Larson said.

Reeder said that when the Project Review Board approved the concept plan for the paddling center on Flying Point, the Mann family and L.L. Bean agreed to maintain the traditional access, the gravel road, to the cemetery.

“Is it still there or not, when it’s covered with grass?” Reeder said. “Bean feels it showed on the plan, but the Project Review Board required it to be ‘on the face of the earth.’ If it’s shown on the plan, it should be on the face of the earth. But it’s grassed over.”

Reeder added that L.L. Bean has in the past provided access on the gravel road to Mann Cemetery, which dates back to the French and Indian War of the mid-18th century.

John and Ken Mann have gone to the town engineer, Albert Presgraves, and Larson with their complaints, and the issue went to Reeder, he said. Reeder decided it would be a violation of the concept approved by the Project Review Board if the gravel road was on the plan, but is now “missing from the face of the earth,” in his words.

“But I decided not to cite them for a violation,” Reeder said. “Bean is now seeking a clarification from the Project Review Board.”

Cliff Goodall, chairman of the Project Review Board, said that access to the cemetery has never been clear.

“There were never any deeded access rights, but the Manns insist they have the right to cross over (the paddling center to the cemetery)” Goodall said. “That’s a decision for the courts. The Project Review Board can only decide on what has been traditionally used as access.

“L.L. Bean changed the contour of the traditional access and the Manns say it’s a violation. L.L. Bean wants an amended plan, and that old access be taken off. Since there is no deeded right of way, it’s a license that L.L. Bean can revoke at any time. It’s a private property issue between private partners.”

So why the Wednesday evening site walk?

“To see what these people are talking about,” Goodall said.

Mac McKeever, an L.L. Bean spokesman, said the company has “submitted an application to the Project Review Board for review and clarification.”

David Mann, president of the cemetery association, told the Tri-Town Weekly in an email that he learned on Sept. 3, 2013, that L.L. Bean was going before the Project Review Board for a site plan revision on Sept. 9. He contacted Larson by letter on Sept. 9.

“The letter explained the location of the access road, expressed the concern that it not be blocked by any planned improvements, the uncertain nature of the burial ground boundary location within the L.L. Bean property, the prior survey plans addressing the access road and cemetery location, and the hope that L.L. Bean, as owner of record and applicant, might share in the cost of determining the extent of the burial ground located on their property,” Mann wrote in the email. “MCA was very surprised and disappointed when it was represented to us, and to the public, at the Sept. 9 public meeting, that none of the cemetery was located on land of L.L. Bean, therefore L.L. Bean had no responsibility for it.

“Nonetheless, after considerable discussion and a re-introduction of our recorded survey results, over the course of the project review, the access road and the cemetery was acknowledged and noted by L.L. Bean on their site plan,” he said.

“L.L. Bean agreed to help by doing ground penetrating radar near their proposed construction to check for grave sites at or near their proposed excavation. These actions were greatly appreciated,” Mann said. “Upon specific inquiry we were assured by the Project Review Board that since the site plan showed the cemetery access road as an open road, it would be a violation of their site plan approval for L.L. Bean to block the road. Despite these assurances, the traditional access road has now been removed and with it the historic access-way for numerous pioneering families and the Flying Point community. The old ‘Cove burying ground’ is a historic treasure for Freeport, New England, and most especially for the descendants of those who rest there.”

In June 2014, L.L. Bean opened the Flying Point Paddling Center overlooking Casco Bay. There is a wooden, two-story, Paddling Center with showers, changing rooms, registration rooms and storage. Visitors can kayak, canoe, learn to fly cast, camp out and hike. There also is a camping program for children.

The Paddling Center is open from May through October. The center typically attracts up to 50 people on a summer day.

L.L. Bean opened its Flying Point Paddling Center, 4 Marietta Lane, two years ago. An access-road issue has prompted the Freeport Project Review Board to conduct a site walk on Wednesday, July 13.


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