The Boothbay Harbor Planning Board decided unanimously after a Jan. 9 public hearing to pass the east side proposals and new maps to selectmen. The hearing outlined the proposals and how they change roughly half a mile of the town’s coast.
The planning board also voted on three amendments. The first tidies up language and re-dates the zoning map, while the third, a suggestion of the town attorney, protects vegetation in the shoreland zone from view corridor mandates which would be forced to clear land. The second change had pulled a technicality about shrubs out of the language; however, the board accepted alternate Lee Corbin’s suggestion for further cleanup in language and limiting vehicles to 30 days parked in the same place.
Nearly 20 people, including local and area residents and businesspeople, addressed the hearing. Most comments supported the type of development the proposed ordinance changes will bring to Atlantic Avenue; some expressed concern of harm to working waterfront, and several felt the proposals were “watered down” as businessman Chuck Fuller put it from the original recommendations of the advisory workgroup.
“… I’m not sure anyone will be able to design or complete an economically viable project, but at least existing properties and uses will no longer be considered nonconforming … It is time to get past the false rhetoric about the impact on the working waterfront and allow this area of the town to grow and improve,” said Fuller.
Business owner and resident Marty Gleeson presented a letter to the board – signed by 65 Boothbay Harbor business owners – which implored board members to foster and support zoning changes to the east side of the harbor. Reading from the letter, Gleeson said signers believe the zoning changes will revitalize the east side of the harbor through positive economic opportunity.
“We, the economic drivers of the community, find tremendous value in the rezoning efforts. Our community has deliberated on this issue for over a year and it is our belief that we should move forward on the recommendations … Among these signatures are names you all know, people you do business with every week: Pinkham, Reny, Grover, Gimbel … Doug Carter, the Fullers, Robbie Begin. There are people who own hotels, restaurants, people from the professions, people from B&B's, and a wide range of retail owners – in Boothbay Harbor.”
Next steps for the east side proposals will be discussion by the selectmen, who may draw up warrants and set a date for a public hearing, adjust the proposals, kick them back to the planning board for further review, or decline further action.
Selectmen meet next at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14 in the town office meeting room. The planning board meets nextbat 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 in the town office meeting room.
The board’s final proposal is available at the town hall and can be viewed under the “Recent Documents” tab at www.boothbayharbor.org