Glenburn voters to take another whack at adopting land use code

Posted Oct. 23, 2012, at 8:28 p.m.

GLENBURN, Maine — Nearly two years after narrowly rejecting it, residents will be asked to adopt an updated version of their land use code during a local referendum on Nov. 6.

As it stands, development in town is guided by the existing ordinance, which dates back to 1987 and puts the entire town in one rural-residential zone, with the exception of a 500-foot industrial strip along the railroad tracks.

During their local elections in June of last year, however, Glenburn residents rejected an updated land use code in a 67-58 vote.

At that time, Town Manager Michael Crooker said some landowners thought the new version was too restrictive in that it limited most major commercial and industrial activity to the section of town that runs along Route 15.

In an effort to ensure the measure passes this time around, Town Council Chairman Michael O’Connor, Planning Board Chairwoman Brenda Moody and other local officials have held a series of hearings, meetings and presentations aimed at educating residents about the value of having an up-to-date land use ordinance. They also sent information and maps to every mailbox in town and reached out to residents through Facebook.

According to Moody and Ron Harriman, Glenburn’s economic and community development consultant, the revamped land use code seeks to establish a village district in the part of town that includes the town office and elementary school, a residential-commercial district, an industrial district and a rural district, along with a list of activities allowed and prohibited within each or allowed with code enforcement or planning board approval.

Harriman said the revamped code would allow certain sections of town to promote organized development while preserving the community’s residential flavor. Moody added that the new version would provide residential property owners some protections from commercial development.

While Glenburn is one of the region’s fastest-growing residential communities, it has a small business base. That, Moody and Harriman said, puts the bulk of the cost burden for town and school operations on taxpayers.

“The biggest thing here is taxes,” Moody said. She said she is worried that the town’s rising property tax rate will make living in Glenburn unaffordable for some households.

Moody said the existing code could be a deterrent to business people interested in setting up shop here because it is unclear about what they can and cannot do in terms of development. That, she said, concerns her.

Town Council Chairman Michael O’Connor agrees.

“Without the land use ordinance, businesses don’t have the definition they need to feel confident attempting to locate in town,” he said.

The updated code expands both the size and number of employee requirements for home-based businesses and allows existing businesses to expand their footprint by up to 50 percent, he said.

“Glenburn residents have already approved a Comprehensive Plan and [Tax Increment Financing] Program — and the proposed land use ordinance is an integral part of moving forward with those plans,” he said.

The land use code has been endorsed by the Town Council, planning board, economic development committee, comprehensive plan committee, Moody said.

It can be seen on the town’s website, www.glenburn.org, or at the Glenburn Municipal Building, where the polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

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