News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 20, 2013
Castine Selectmen set to tackle zoning issues

Click here to see the full Castine Zoning Archive.

by Sharon Bray

At their meeting Monday, June 17, selectmen agreed to figure out a process for addressing issues left hanging when voters approved a “baseline” zoning ordinance at town meeting June 1.

Selectmen had set aside “controversial” sections of a wider land use ordinance proposed as part of a plan to revitalize the town’s economic and community development.

Most of those issues had been cited as reasons for a more detailed ordinance’s defeat in November 2012.

Selectmen told townspeople they would schedule a special town meeting in August after part-year residents had been given an opportunity to discuss the ordinance with people who live in town enough of the year to be eligible to vote.

“We’ve made promises we need to fulfill,” stated Selectman David Unger.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Peter Vogell agreed to schedule a work session on “how to organize it and go forward” but not to discuss “content” of issues at hand.

Vogell said one example to be resolved is whether the town should allow bed and breakfast businesses in rural areas. Currently the planning board has the authority to approve B&Bs, but voters could eliminate the possibility altogether, said Vogell.

The town has three ways to present voters with changes to its zoning rules, said Town Manager Dale Abernethy: by recommendation of selectmen, by recommendation of the planning board, or by citizen petition.

The special town meeting could address 60 or more questions, breaking down the issues into distinct details.

He said he has started a draft warrant with “25 or so” questions. One example, Abernethy said, deals with whether to allow markets and retail sales in rural, village 2 and village 3 zones—markets being separate from retail sales.

Unger noted it might take more than one session to vote on all the questions.

Selectman Gus Basile asked if they could add items not on the original proposal. “When the baseline was passed, some people wanted to make more changes,” he noted.

“You should be receptive to whatever is presented to you,” Abernethy advised.

“We want to make this just as open as possible,” Vogell said.

“Make sure everyone has their say,” added Unger.

The changes are “subject to a planning board public hearing,” according to Abernethy. But public discussion will continue at the special town meeting.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Pat Bishop updated selectmen on plans for Waterfront Wednesday concerts to begin July 10. She said the community and economic development committee has plans for seven events running 5 to 7 p.m. on the town dock.

With no troublesome bandstand this year, according to Sue Macdonald, Maine Maritime Academy will provide chairs.

Bishop said the season’s entertainment will cost $3,600 and that businesses had already contributed $3,000 with more pledged.

Selectmen gave Castine Historical Society permission to store a house on town property. CHS will be renovating the Grindle house next door to the Abbott School museum. In the process, the contractor will jack up and move the house temporarily onto land owned by the town.

The board appointed Alyssa Allen of MMA as a member of the Community and Economic Development Committee’s subcommittee for promotion of the town.

They also appointed Scott Vogell, Debby Neve and Ted Lameyer to the design subcommittee.

Bente Hartmann, chairman of the harbor committee, told selectmen that the harbormaster had given approval for Victory Chimes to spend a night at the town dock when the Cruising Club of America visits the harbor August 9-10, weather permitting. Hartmann said 60 to 70 boats are likely to visit Castine for the event.

Selectmen approved the use of Emerson Hall for a wedding August 24.

Abernethy reported that several people had called to complain about pigs rooting around in a small, private cemetery on the Shore Road. He said the three people buried there are not veterans or Revolutionary War participants; so the town has no authority to take over the cemetery.

The town could build a fence to protect the graves, Abernethy said, at a cost of about $2,500. The property owner had offered to give the town an easement for access to the cemetery and space to erect the fence.

“How about the responsibility of the people who own the pigs?” asked Basile, objecting to the town spending money for something that should be up to the farmers to fix.

Vogell asked for volunteers to help when the lighthouse is open June 29-30.

The town will celebrate completion of Emerson Hall renovations Saturday, June 22. Ruth Basile, chairman of the volunteer committee in charge of the project, said the town band and fife and drum corps will provide music on the common at 11 a.m. The public is invited into the hall for tours and more music at 2:30 p.m. A number of state officials will attend and speak during the celebration.

The next regular 4 p.m. selectmen’s meetings are scheduled for Mondays July 1 and 15. The town office will post notice of work sessions in the meantime.