If you read last week’s blog then you know that our town may open up formerly protected areas within 75’ of streams for single family homes and smaller structures such as decks. This will be left open to voters.
This all began when the Planning Board considered adopting changes to its Shoreland Zoning and Stream Protected Zone to be in line with the Maine state suggestions. These changes were not necessary but suggested by the town’s code enforcement officer.
The most controversial of these changes involved the chance for property owners to build within the Stream Protected Zone.
Our town’s attorney suggested separating this controversial part from the rest of the suggested changes and offering two ordinances to the voters in June. This is what will probably happen.
How many properties would be affected? Two are in or almost entirely within the stream protected zone. Other properties might be as well. The code enforcement officer mentioned that even if a property had, say, 20% of its needed land for building within this zone, or even if you owned the property before this protection was passed, you could not build your home or smaller structure there.
One case involved a home owner whose home came right to the edge of the protected zone and asked to build a deck that so the family could enjoy the natural area near the stream. The deck would be in the protected zone. The home owner was refused.
Here we have a classic case of property rights versus a town’s right to protect its streams and rivers from possible pollution. Is there a middle way?
Here is what the changed ordinance affecting these property owners would say: If a property owner wants to build a one family home on this currently protected land, then he or she could go before the Zoning Board of Appeals. If the Zoning Board of Appeals allowed him or her, then the property owner could go before the Planning Board.
The Planning Board could decide what kind of environmental protections the property owner would need in order to build the single family home or other structure or reject the plan.
This way, the property owner at least has a path open, now he has none.
You be the judge! Should the town vote to keep the same stream protected zones? Or allow property owners a possible path to build what they wish to build on their property in stream protected zones?