D-F residents to vote on land use ordinance in June
DOVER-FOXCROFT — When residents head to the polls in two months on Tuesday, June 11 to vote on the town and RSU 68 budgets they will also be making decisions on a revised land use ordinance and an amended shoreland zoning ordinance. Both were the subjects of public hearings during an April 4 planning board meeting.
In November a similar land use ordinance was narrowly voted down via an 859-845 result.
“First of all the land use ordinance is the result of several years of work by the ordinance committee,” consultant Gwen Hilton, who has worked with a land use ordinance committee over the last several years, said. “Your existing ordinance was adopted in 2009 and amended several times and that ordinance was not consistent with your comprehensive plan,” she added.
The comprehensive plan approved by voters in 2016 and the land use ordinance need to be consistent.
Hilton said the proposed land use ordinance implements a vision for “an attractive, authentic rural town with a rich cultural heritage and exceptional natural resources” while creating long-term prosperity through moderate population growth and economic development.
“It builds on the existing land use ordinance,” she said. The new document enhances the administrating and permitting processes in relation to the size, scale and potential impact of projects. Hilton said the land use ordinance is consistent with state and federal law.
“The ordinance is designed to be more user friendly,” Hilton said. She homeowners and small business owners can get permits easier with fewer requirements and through a faster process.
“The ordinance provides a lot more flexibility than your existing ordinance while also maintaining community character,” she said.
Hilton said the ordinance has some revisions to the land use districts in Dover-Foxcroft including new industrial zones, changes to the commercial zones, creates a new East Dover Hamlet District and renames downtown, farm and forest and rural residential districts. She said these adjustments “make it easier for people to understand where these places are.”
The land use ordinance specifies what can be done in each section of town, with tables identifying projects that can be carried out without a permit, what requires code enforcement approval, when the planning board must give its OK and prohibited uses. She said this information is on the town website at www.dover-foxcroft.org as well as in physical form at the Morton Avenue Municipal Building.
“The idea is to make it very clear what we’re talking about,” Hilton said, as some new uses have been added to the ordinance.
“If you have questions (Code Enforcement Officer Connie Sands and Code Assistant Brian Gaudet) have the details on where you are and where you are going to be,” Chris Maas of the planning board said.
“We are not changing anything passed with the comprehensive plan in 2016, we’re just following it,” Town Manager Jack Clukey said.
In addition to the land use ordinance question on last November’s ballot, citizens also voted on separate mega project ordinances concerning transportation corridors and large-scale water extraction projects. These were turned down 903-796 and 891-804 respectively.
Residents Nick Calderone wondered should such projects be proposed for Dover-Foxcroft then would the town have the opportunity to weigh in, such as via a public vote.
“The most important thing for the town is to have the comprehensive plan and land use ordinance be in compliance,” said Steve Grammont, a selectman and member of the land use ordinance committee. He said the group felt it was important to have the mega project ordinances be separate and to focus on the land use ordinance for June.
“It’s just this part of it and the mega projects will not be part of it at all,” Grammont said.
“Mega projects, they need to be addressed sometime,” Maas said. “What we talked about is getting this passed, it needs to be passed,” he said about the land use ordinance.
He said the selectmen have the ability to enact a moratorium — based on previous measures — “and we have some things in the hopper to present if we need to,” Maas added about the planning board.
Speaking on the possibility of public votes on mega projects Maas said, “That is something we spent a lot of time on.”
“Legally the question is whether that would stand up,” Grammont said, mentioning how looking at ordinances elsewhere criteria for project approval is based on the developer meeting a set a standards rather than public opinion. “Putting that in really didn’t seem to make any sense.”
“It is not no at this point, it is we’re all going to get another shot at this,” Maas said, inviting those in attendance to take part in future meetings to discuss mega projects and related ordinances to be developed.
Sands then addressed the proposed shoreland zoning amendments to also be decided on the June 11 ballot. “Shoreland zoning is regulating our lakes and streams in town,” she said, saying the document is looked at every few years to make sure everything is still consistent.
The new ordinance would allow for easier reading and location in the document. Sands said it would also take out the authority to regulate piers, docks, wharves, bridges and other structures that extend over or below the normal high-water line of a body of water or wetland and leave this up to the DEP for regulation.
“This is mainly because the DEP already regulates this, so why should we,?”” Sands said.
Other amendments include adding a provision allowing for a small shed within a setback area for storage if there are no other alternatives, the addition of a revegetation section — not previously included but is required by the state — specifying the requirements for replacing in cases of violations or for other allowed development and clarification on how to hold administrative appeals.
“It’s not a whole lot of changes, ease of reading was the biggest thing and the provision to add a shed,” Sands said.