2019 Proposed Land Use Ordinance Changes

The Planning Board will be presenting the following changes to our Land Use Ordinance at a public hearing to be held immediately after the Finance Committee public hearing which is scheduled for 8:00AM March 23, 2019 at the Long Island Learning Center.

Article 7 Section 17 Septic Inspection Required at Title Transfer

We are proposing changes to this ordinance to clarify when septic system inspections are required and to remove the reference to dye tests, which are not a reliable method of determining if a septic system is functioning.

Text of Proposed Changes

Purpose of Ordinance

Currently, section 7.16 requires that before any title transfer of ownership of a lot containing a Subsurface Wastewater Disposal (SSWD) system or a structure connected to a SSWD system occurs, the system must be tested using a standard dye test, and the system evaluated to determine if it meets State standards.  The one exception to the requirement is when a proposed title transfer occurs between November and May and a test is not able to be performed prior to transfer.

Summary of Proposed Changes

  1. The term, “Transfer” is defined to include the following: any transfer of ownership whether by sale, gift, devise, transfer to an entity, and inheritance, including transfers to a trust for which the current owner is the beneficiary.
  2. The requirement to use a dye test is removed.  Instead, a licensed inspector would have to certify that system was not malfunctioning as specified in the State’s Subsurface Wastewater Disposal Rules.
  3. Four exceptions to the inspection requirement are provided:
    • when a septic system has been installed within 3 years prior to the date of the transfer of property title;
    • when the septic system had been inspected within 3 years prior to the date of the transfer and was found to be functioning;
    • when weather conditions preclude an inspection of the septic system prior to the date of transfer, the inspection must be performed within 9 months after the date of transfer; and
    • when the person acquiring title to the property certifies that the system will be replaced within one year from the date of transfer.

Article 13 Zoning Board of Appeals and Article 14 Planning Board

We are proposing that the authority for approving Conditional Use applications be transferred from the Zoning Board of Appeals to the Planning Board.

Text of Proposed Changes

Please note that this proposed change involves changes to several articles in the Land Use Ordinance, not just Articles 13 and 14. The reason for this is that all articles that currently reference “conditional use(s)” and “Zoning Board of Appeals” must be changed to replace “Zoning Board of Appeals” with “Planning Board”.

Purpose of Ordinance

The purpose of this ordinance in to insure that any conditional use for a parcel is consistent with the standards in place for the zone and neighborhood in which the parcel is located.

Summary of Proposed Changes

We are proposing that process of considering and approving conditional use applications be moved from the Zoning Board of Appeals to the Planning Board. The changes involve moving the existing language related to processing conditional use applications from Article 13 Zoning Board of Appeals to Article 14 Planning Board. The new language in Article 14 is the same as the existing language in Article 13 with the exception that appeals from a Planning Board conditional use application finding will be to the Zoning Board of Appeals rather than to Superior Court.

Why Are We Proposing Changes?

The reason we are proposing this change is that we think the Planning Board is the appropriate authority for hearing condition use applications. Here is why we think this is the case:

1. The primary function of the Planning Board is to review and propose changes to the town’s Land Use Ordinance. This body is much more familiar with our land use standards than the Zoning Board of Appeals whose primary functions are to hear variance requests and appeals of decisions of the CEO.

2. The Planning Board meets at least monthly throughout the year. The Zoning Board of Appeals only meet when they have a variance, CEO decision or conditional use request to consider.

3. In almost all towns in the state the planning board is the body that considers conditional use applications.

We proposed doing this two years ago and it was rejected. We still think this is a good idea and we think we have addressed the two issues that may have caused the rejection two years ago; namely the lack of notification of neighborhood parcel owners and the decision of appeals going directly to Superior Court rather than to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Article 3 Zoning District Standards Sections 3.2 IR-1 Island Residential and 3.3 Island Residential Zone

We are proposing changes to Sub-Section B Permitted Uses Items 6 of both articles 3.2 and 3.3. These items allow for the building of “detached accessory structures”, also know as “sheds”, on residential property.

Purpose of Ordinance

These items of the IR-1 and IR-2 zoning district standards were adopted in 2002 to allow property owners to put small detached shed structures on their property that need not meet side and rear setbacks without a building permit.

Summary of Proposed Changes

1. Delete the words “detached accessory structure” and replace them with the word “shed”.

2. Required a no-fee building permit for the structure.

3. Specify that the “shed” not be used for human habitation.

Why Are We Proposing Changes?

1. The words “detached accessory structure” implies that there must be an existing “primary structure” on the parcel before an “accessory structure” can be added. This is how our CEO currently interprets this language. Replacing the term “detached accessory structure” with “shed” will allow a property owner to place a shed on their property before a primary structure is built.

2. The reason for requiring a “no-fee building permit” is to insure that the property owner understands that the “shed” must meet all district and town-wide standards except for property side and rear setbacks. This has always been the case but many property owners are not aware of this. Note that a building permit requires a sketch showing the location of the structure on the parcel.

3. We want to make sure that a shed is never used for human habitation.

Text of Proposed Changes

A small Maine island town