Town of Boothbay

Selectmen request planning board provide letter highlighting proposed ordinance changes

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 8:30am

A workshop is scheduled for Feb. 18 for Boothbay’s planning board to prepare a letter explaining major changes in the proposed updated municipal ordinances which may be voted on in May or June. Selectman Kristina Ford requested a transmittal letter which would highlight major changes impacting the proposed ordinances. The planning board has spent four years integrating into the ordinances a new comprehensive plan voters approved in 2013.

Earlier this year, the planning board completed its work by submitting a total re-write of municipal ordinances. A draft is on the municipal website for public review. Ford hadn’t seen the first draft and requested a brief explanation of significant ordinance changes prior to the second public hearing in two weeks. “Am I missing something here,” asked Ford. “Isn’t there a transmittal letter? I’m a planner, and I feel a little flat-footed without one. You shouldn’t have to read the entire document to see where the major changes are.” 

Planning board members were reluctant to provide a condensed version of their work. Chairman Sam Morris explained the process included 90-100 meetings over the past four years and providing a condensed version wasn’t realistic. Ford tried to reassure the planning board she didn’t want an account of every change. She likened the current document to an Easter egg hunt with residents having to search for significant changes.

Planning Board member Robbie Ham responded, “It’s more than a little list.” But Ford persisted in seeking “something capturing the grander changes in the proposed ordinances.” This led to selectmen voting 4-0 seeking a transmittal letter. Consultant Mark Eyerman will write a summary and  the planning board will review his work during a special workshop at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 18. Planning board members may revise the summary before submitting it to the selectmen. 

During the public hearing, there were two audience comments about the proposed ordinance changes. Resident Jason Anthony made three recommendations.  One regarded large scale developments. Anthony requested the town adopt a Maine Department of Environmental Protection guideline. “In the pre-application period, the state requires large scale developers to notify abutters. I think the town should, too,” he said. Anthony also requested adding a definition for appellate appeals to join de novo in the proposed ordinances and broaden the meaning of visual buffer. 

A second public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26. Selectmen expect to receive Eyerman’s summary page prior to the hearing. The process remains on track for a May town meeting vote, but signifcant changes or additions to the current proposal may push the vote to June. Town Manager Dan Bryer thought if the town missed deadlines for a May vote, they could easily move it to the state June referendum.