Board sets hearing on east side proposals

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 12:00pm

The Boothbay Harbor planning board on Dec. 12 set a 7 p.m. Jan. 9 public hearing at the town office, for east side proposals. The board reviewed recommendations from the Department of Environmental Protection and the town’s lawyer before coming to the unanimous decision.

DEP’s Colin Clark declared positions on two fronts – high water setback and height calculations. Clark said DEP would require the setback to remain at 75 feet to prevent non-water dependent structures from creeping closer to the water. Also, Clark said most lot configurations would likely need a “greatest practical extent” review by the planning board since several lots already have structures which could not be set back at 75 feet if moved or redeveloped. 

The DEP also requires Boothbay Harbor to adopt the 2015 Chapter 1000 rule which defines the height calculation as being measured from the downhill-most point. Current town standards measure from the median grade of the building’s location. 

Representatives for Paul Coulombe, Bill Logan and Rick Shenay argued that the board should continue to push for a 25-foot setback, perhaps by reclassifying the limited commercial district as a general development district. 

“There’s very little difference between them,” said Logan. “The only significant difference is industrial uses and through the ordinance, the town has the right to … restrict industrial uses to marine uses, boat building, aquaculture, things you’ve talked about already.”

Shenay said a conversation between a colleague and Clark yielded some hope that adopting a general development district would allow for a 25-foot setback. 

“He said he was willing to support a 25-foot setback, but the town never asked for it and that this whole discussion has not focused on the general development district … I don’t see how you can act on this tonight …”

Code Enforcement Officer Geoff Smith said a conversation with Clark shortly before Coulombe’s associates’ call confirmed that DEP would be willing to work with a 25-foot setback under a general development district; however, Clark will not support the setback with the town’s current land use table which mimics a limited commercial district as defined by DEP. 

Comparing the definitions of both districts, Hamblen said he believes limited commercial stands for what the town is looking for “to a T.” Coupled with the fact the board can judge on a case to case basis what a greatest practical extent would be for a building's placement, Hamblen said he still sits in the 75-foot setback camp. 

Alternate Lee Corbin pointed out, having drawn the single water-dependent district down from over nine acres to just over two, going all out for a general development district would categorically eliminate a water-dependent designation – the opposite of what the board set out to do. 

The board approved Clark’s recommendations and approved three of five recommendations from the town attorney which centered around language and clarifications. The remaining two suggestions — heights of objects in view corridors and a new parameter which limits the clearing of vegetation to fulfill view corridor requirements — will be discussed at the hearing after getting more information from the attorney.

The board will meet after the hearing.