State zoning guidelines puts crimp on Sangerville

Posted Oct. 16, 2009, at 11:30 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:09 p.m.

SANGERVILLE, Maine — The Sangerville Planning Board has found the state’s new guidelines for municipal shoreland zoning ordinances not to its liking.

The board, which took its concerns about the new regulations to selectmen Tuesday, was advised to poll officials in surrounding towns to gauge the support or nonsupport of the new guidelines. It also was suggested that the planning board relay its concerns to local legislators and senators.

The legal deadline for towns to have updated their shoreland zoning ordinances was July 1, 2009, according to Stephanie MacLagan, the Department of Environmental Protection’s shoreland zoning coordinator. If a town has not adopted its own ordinance, a state ordinance will be imposed, she said Friday.

The DEP is working toward the state-imposed ordinance, but it will take time before it is adopted because of the mapping requirements, she noted. In the interim, towns can continue to work on their documents, she said. MacLagan said even if the state imposes an ordinance, towns later could adopt their own ordinance and maps if the information provided is acceptable to the DEP.

The Sangerville Planning Board recommended to selectmen this week that residents vote on the new guidelines at the annual town meeting.

Individually, the planning board members had a variety of concerns, including the fact that the Resource Protection District was enlarged, yet the town had no way to identify the affected areas without a map of the General Development and Timber Harvesting districts, according to planning board Chairman Gerald Peters. He said the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife had provided the town with a map of wildlife protection areas. In addition, the board believes the changes make it more restrictive for landowners, who won’t enjoy the benefits they once had, he said Friday.

Planning board member Irving McNaughton said the DEP has changed the rules six times since 1990. “I expect the state will continue to impose changes and it’s time for the town to say, ‘No, enough is enough,’” McNaughton said Friday.

“They are just too restrictive,” he said of the changes. He added that the town couldn’t afford the additional administrative costs.

Peters, who expects the DEP will impose the new changes on the town regardless of the board’s actions, predicted that it would cost three times as much to enforce the changes. He said the code enforcement officer receives only $3,000 for the job and this would triple his work.

MacLagan said she did not feel the new amendments would impose an additional financial burden on communities. She said the Sangerville board has not been “very communicative” with her. Of the 453 Maine communities, only 50, including Sangerville, are “missing in action,” she said. That means they haven’t contacted the DEP about the status of the review process, she said.

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