Boothbay Harbor Planning Board

Expansion proposal, store minimum footprint reconsidered

Posted:  Friday, January 12, 2018 - 11:45am

The Boothbay Harbor Planning Board heard a proposal Jan. 10 to expand a non-conforming structure in the shoreland zone. Paul Coulombe owns the property at 101 Commercial St. His vice president of operations Melissa Neel answered questions about the proposal.

“We’re not changing the use as it is being kept a single family home,” said Neel. “It has not been expanded before, therefore we would like to use some of the allowable 30 percent to expand the decks, add dormers, and add an elevator shaft.”

Neel explained, the plans keep the building within the same footprint and no more water-impervious surface will be added. The elevator shaft will sit where the outdoor stairs are now and neither the shaft nor the proposed roof line will extend any higher than the present roof line. Neel also pointed out, the plans outline a nine percent expansion in square footage and 8.9 percent added volume.

Board alternate Lee Corbin asked if the proposed dormers would block any views of the harbor from neighboring dwellings or businesses.

“They might,” said board chair Bill Hamblen. “But historically we have determined that modifications no higher than the existing roof line of structures are therefore no more non-comforming and (are) permitted.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the expansion proposal.

In old business, alternate Jon Dunsford brought many hours of work to the board in the form of a change in the town code categorizing the minimum square footage of shops in the business district.

“We came to the conclusion that if we were to allow commercial development use to be governed by a 2,000-square-foot lot, we would then achieve 70 percent of the lots that are 4,000 (square feet) or bigger (that) would be able to have two commercial uses within their lot. We figured that was a reasonable critical mass.”

The minimum square footage is presently 10,000 square feet for both commercial and residential uses. The proposal would lower the minimum footprint for commercial uses to 2,000 square feet. Dunsford also said if the proposed changes took effect, “at least a third” of the downtown business district would be able to have a business and a dwelling above.

“I think this is nice and clean and solves a problem downtown and opens up opportunities for our businesses down there,” said Hamblen.

Board member Margaret Perritt made a motion to send Dunsford’s findings to the select board to hopefully adopt as a warrant item which would set a timeline allowing it to reach the May ballot. The board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

The planning board meets next on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.