Here’s the problem:
Our conservation commission urged a change in the Shoreland Zoning a few years ago. This change would apply the same 75’ setback from any body of water, including streams not defined by the Maine DEP, as streams such as water flows usually 1-2’ wide.
These small flows can flood roads after a hard rain. Apparently the Maine DEP finally recognized one of these narrow flows as a ‘stream.’
Voters voted to define these flows as streams and part of the Stream Protection Zone. Nothing could be built within this 75’ zone.
Water testing suggested one of these ‘streams’ to be carrying pollutants to our tidal river and ocean beach.
The Conservation Commission urged the town to apply for a DEP Clean Water grant and after winning the grant, hired an environmental company to test the town’s streams and rivers.
Following extensive water testing and an analysis of the DNA from the water samples the principal cause was found to be dog feces. People were not picking up after their pets or tossing their pets’ ‘land mines’ into the town storm drains.
All the streams in our town end up in the ocean and in areas along our beach where people swim; in winter, clammers work the tidal river. This pollution could make swimmers sick and close the clam flats.
Recently the town’s code enforcement officer suggesting making the town’s Shoreland Zoning agree with the new Maine state suggestions. These changes are not necessary, but one would allow a property owner to build a single family house within the 75’ Stream Protected Zones. The owner would go before the Zoning Board of Appeals and if approved, head to the Planning Board.
Soon the Planning Board will decide whether or not to make these changes to the town’s Shoreland Zoning and if it decides to do so, put them in an ordinance that the town will vote on in June.
Should the town open the door to building in this protected zone?
Would allowing houses in this stream protected zone wipe out years of work by the Conservation Commission, town and environmental company to clean up the rivers?
Could the town ensure the clean stream and river water we are finally achieving?
You be the judge. What should the Planning Board do?
(To be continued)