Planning board mulls two zones on east side
A lot has happened with the east side zoning proposals over the last 10 months, Chair Bill Hamblen said. He listed 18 meetings and all the input from planners, the Department of Environmental Protection, lawyers, advisers, and the public and all the revisions.
“But the current plan is not fully consistent with the comprehensive plan. We heard at the selectmen's meeting two weeks ago a fairly overwhelming statement that we want to have development, but we want to protect the working waterfront as well. We want to do both these things.”
Hamblen said the current proposals do not adequately protect the working waterfront, so he proposed the board shift the proposals to do both. That is, instead of changing the entire zone as proposed, the board should consider applying the current zoning with some tweaks to the six parcels that make up the working waterfront – Fish Pier, Fishermen's Memorial, Sea Pier, and Lobster Wharf – and apply the drafted proposals to the rest of the parcels within the existing district.
Hamblen suggests creating two zones: a maritime zone and a limited commercial and maritime zone. The maritime zone would encompass the six working waterfront parcels, would provide no added uses, would remove residential and microbrewery uses, and see an easier approval process and reduced permitting fees, said Hamblen. The limited commercial and maritime district would maintain the maritime uses, and see added uses like view corridors and 25-foot setbacks, but no multifamily dwellings. This approach would be consistent with the “wording and spirit” of the comprehensive plan, said Hamblen.
“If we do this right, we will not need to amend the comprehensive plan.”
Hamblen said he discussed the idea with town attorney John Cunningham over the phone. He said Cunningham told him the suggested boundaries are based on 30 years of history and that incentives and protections for working waterfront would match the intent of the comprehensive plan.
Board member Chris Swanson preferred to see Cunningham's blessing to move forward in writing.
“We spent eight months belaboring this thinking that DEP was supporting it and then we found out when it came down to brass tacks, when Colin (Clark) gave us written feedback, it was something totally different.”
Hamblen said he would ask Cunningham to write something. But chances are good Cunningham will want to see a proposal first, he added.
Boothbay Harbor resident Ken Fitch gave the board kudos for maintaining the maritime district, but said it seems like property owners within that proposed district would lose rights to additional restrictions. Fitch said land use and zoning have to be neutral to find the best purpose for the land it governs, not fit a specific type of project.
“... A lot of us feel we're trying to take a square peg and put it in a round hole. That's what you wind up getting here. This is spot zoning …”
Hamblen said he asked Cunningham if this would be considered spot zoning. “His answer was that he did not think it was.”
Doug Carter divulged that his Sea Pier property has been sold to Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation. The sale occurred about three weeks ago, will finalize after the next fishing season, and the funds were donated anonymously through the company, said Carter.
“All you people that write letters and say you care about the working waterfront, that it's essential and the harbor has to have it … all of you people who've got the groups have done nothing to preserve it … This is going to be bought not by the people who wrote the letters, not the people who want to do something, not the people who say 'Oh, it's so important' who have done nothing, but this is by a couple of donors who do care. You care with your pocketbook not with your piehole.”
The two anonymous donors are “heroes” for keeping the interest of the fishermen and water-dependent businesspeople at heart, Carter added.
Lafayette Boothbay Inc., represented by Eric Marden of Marden Builders, applied to put a restaurant on the Tugboat Inn’s rooftop. The plans for the nonconforming building show the expansion will be no more than 30 percent and, per the fire marshal’s request, a catwalk egress has been added to the plan.
“This is a lovely vision with all the tables, but you remove all the tables, I can see 300 people up there watching the fireworks,” said Dunsford. “So what type of engineering is being done to make sure that's understood?”
Marden said he has structural engineer Bill Haney working on the structure; support beams and posts will be steel, Marden said.
After addressing solid waste disposal, parking, music, lighting and stormwater, the board unanimously passed the application with three conditions: that the applicant provide a stormwater management plan, that the planned stairs be blocked off in the off-season, and that a lighting plan be submitted in the permitting process.
The board tabled Fritzy Enterprises LLC’s application to expand the nonresidential building at 93 Townsend Ave. by over 500 square feet. The board wants a clearer site plan.
The board chose to create a subcommittee on a request for proposals for consultants for a harbor master plan. Tom Churchill will chair the subcommittee. Other members are Margaret Perritt, Jon Dunsford and Selectman Mike Tomko.