Town of Buxton Planning Board
August 23, 2010
Recorded by Hilda Lynch
Board Members Present: Scott Havu, David Savage, Sr.; Jeremiah Ross, III; Harry Kavouksorian; Caroline Segalla; and David Anderson
Board Members Absent: James Logan;
Others Present: Henry W. Huntley, Joan Weeman, Jan Hill, Brent Hill, Cliff Thomas, Jean Harmon, Penny Booker, and Brent Havu
Chairman Harry Kavouksorian called the August 24, 2010, meeting of the Buxton Planning Board together at 7:02 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance
Buxton Historical Society wants to discuss what use options are available for the Hanson School.
Brent Hill, President of the Buxton-Hollis Historical Society (BHHS), spoke about the group‘s interest in re-using the Hanson School. He had Jan Hill and Joan Weeman with him. The school burned down in March, 1930, so within a few months a bond was issued to rebuild the school. They were back in the school in December of that year, which is the current S.D. Hanson School.
The BHHS is interested in seeing the building put to its highest and best use, whatever that may be. Brent is interested in finding out what the implications are for some Planning Board decisions made around the new Buxton Center Elementary School. He wants to know what could be done, such as, lot size, parking and any other terms.
Harry stated that in the village zone the lot size is 2 acres. The parking would be determined by the use of the building. He doesn’t have any ideas about how it may be used, but he certainly recognizes the historic significance. He asked if they’ve talked with the School Board yet. Brent said they’d be talking with the Facilities Committee tomorrow evening.
Caroline suggested he talk with Fred about the uses and parking. She’s aware of grants out there to re-hab the building. She mentioned affordable or senior housing, and she would not like to see the building demolished. Fred might be able to work with the BHHS and the school district.
Brent asked if they were talking about two acres. Board members thought that it had
been re-zoned to village. Harry thinks that some of the parking was counted towards the new school.
Jere suggested working out a lease with the school district in order to keep it one parcel. He mentioned that there are issues with the septic system located across the road. He suggests working out a long-term lease with the school dept. He thinks that if there is an assembly at the school, they would need all of the parking on the whole site, but conditions could be placed on any use to take care of that. A feasibility study would need to be done to see what would need to be done to bring the building up to standard. He says that a lot of times it is cheaper to take something down and build something new. If it is kept as one parcel, this would eliminate the zoning issue. Jere asked about the septic lease.
Jean Harmon thought there was 85 years left on the lease. Harry said that if the system is currently adequate, then the filing of a plan for re-doing the septic should it fail could be done. He liked Caroline’s idea about looking at the potential uses. Caroline said they got some good feedback at the Community Days. She said this might be one of their first topics of discussion from those solicited at the Community Days. Their next meeting is September 8.
Harry asked if the building currently had status in being on the National Historic Register? Essentially, the building is as it was built in the 1930s. There are some issues around the handicapped accessibility and perhaps putting in of an elevator. If it were to be re-built into apartments, would there still be a need for ADA compliance? Jere mentioned that if they offered something to the general public, it would have to be ADA accessible.
David A mentioned that the bathrooms are downstairs. Jere said a handicapped person couldn’t get into the building now because there are currently no ramps. David A suggests that if they determine how they’d like to use the building, such as, using it for an historical museum or something like that, then they would need to look at the ordinances in the book to see whether the uses would be acceptable. Harry thinks they should come up with a specific use first. That would be the easiest way for the Planning Board to address the issues. Jere mentions that the Land Use Table doesn’t include anything for historical purposes. Brent says they haven’t come to the point of deciding definitely what they might want to do. Caroline asked Jean
if the Selectmen were talking about this. Jean said that it is not an issue, but it could be.
Jean Harmon says that the Selectmen are not working on this. The Board declined the school because of some of the issues that have already been discussed. The septic across the Groveville Rd. might not be workable unless the people are willing to continue the lease. There are not two acres to go with the building. The town could take a lease agreement to the district. The district is planning to heat and maintain the building this year. Some of the air quality and condensation issues would have to be addressed for public use. She doesn’t think the Selectmen would be opposed to working with the Historical Society.
Jan Hill thinks what they’ve had to say sounds promising. The BHHS has a need for meeting space. The new structures today might not be in as good a shape as this building in the future. She understands that the new gym in the new school backs up to the stage, which hasn’t worked in a school she’s familiar with. She mentions having space for recreation, perhaps a weight room. She’d like to see everyone work together because there are very few historical buildings left in Buxton. She doesn’t know yet what it could be used for and/or what would be allowed. She thinks there are people who would be willing to work on saving the building.
Caroline asked Jean about a committee established for the Hanson School; and if there is one, is it still active? Jean says there hasn’t been a new committee formed since the school was offered to the town. Caroline asked if people who were interested could come in and talk about this topic. They need to know what they could do with the building. She doesn’t think the Town has the money to do what needs to be done or doesn’t want it to become a burden to the taxpayers. She said the Selectmen have talked about it at length. A figure 10 years ago was over $100,000 to put an elevator into the building. Jean says there is no land that goes with it because the land is being used by the new school.
Jere said that many of these topics were discussed in using the old town hall. Any citizen has the right to get signatures to have it put on the ballet in November. If it passes by a majority of the voters, then the Selectmen might see it as a charge to move forward. Jere mentioned that Eliza Libby and Frank Jewett are also going to be affected by this move. Jean mentioned that Jack Memorial will be used for Adult Ed. and Alt. Ed. Jean mentioned that the Frank Jewett might be used for the Superintendent’s office. She isn’t sure exactly where that’s at right now. Jere reminds everyone that 68 cents on a dollar goes to the school district. Those buildings are owned by all of us.
Jan thinks creativity is going to be very important. She thinks that the parking issue can be overcome. She mentions the area where the old town hall is as land that was given to the town for educational uses. She thinks this parcel could be used. She thinks something could be worked out with the church, also, as they’ve worked very cooperatively with the Town in the past. She’d like to mention, since taxes are a big issue for all of us, that Caroline mentioned grant money that they might be able to obtain. She wants to let people know that they’re thinking about other ideas.
Jere talked about when the district needed so many parking spaces, the district people looked down the hill and mentioned the 25 parking spaces near the Hanson School. Jan asked if there is a State requirement or local ordinance regarding the parking? Jere said it is local. She asked about checking on events happening at the same time between the new Buxton Center Elementary School and the Hanson School. She wondered if there might be some flexibility with this.
Jere said the other thing the Board looked at was not allowing the school district to create a nonconforming lot. Their feeling was that if the District were to take that property and sell it to someone else, they didn’t want them to be able to create a nonconforming lot. Jere said that even if he could get the two acres, with the septic system on adjoining property, he didn’t know if he could get a lender. Jere thinks that a long-term lease with the school district might be the best way to go. Jan said that they came up with something creative for the one-room schoolhouse. In her opinion, it wasn’t a good place to have it on Rt. 22. They’re very grateful to Tony Taylor for making it possible for them to have it where it is
Approval of Minutes: August 9, 2010
Some edits were discussed.
Caroline moved, seconded by David S, to approve the minutes as amended. Six voted in favor.
Approval of Bills
None. Harry asked about the invoice from SMRPC and the budget. David A said that the funds have not been affected this year.
Jim asked for a leave of absence from the Board of Selectmen for three meetings he would have to miss. That has been approved and signed by the Board.
Review and sign Findings of Facts for Colonial Tree - Harry didn’t find all of the changes in the packet from the previous meeting. Caroline doesn’t see that all of the changes have been made. #26 - “not” should be “no“; *27 - “not” should be “no“; adding a 14’ height on the chip pile; all items being done within 60 days of approval is not clear. Caroline will give Krystal a note on what still needs to be changed. Jere found something about the RV on p. 5 of the June 28 minutes. David A has tank and RV removal in his notes from June 14.
Sign By-Laws - Harry thought they might want to discuss public comment at meetings. Caroline sent the Board some information. Harry doesn’t think it is necessary to write something in the by-laws about public comment. Caroline thinks that it can be addressed when the meeting is started. Harry said that the Board always hold a public hearing for each application, so he sees that as the proper time to address issues. Harry said that all they needed to do was sign them because they approved them at the last meeting.
Jere asked if they wanted to announce that they will work on shoreland zoning on September 13, 2010. Harry made an announcement that the mandated shoreland zoning changes will be discussed on September 13 at 7 p.m. If someone is unable to attend, they could get something in to the Code office by Tuesday, September 7. If they have a question, issue or idea, they could join the Planning Board on the 13th.
Motioned by Harry, seconded by Caroline, to adjourn the meeting to a workshop at 7:58 p.m.
Review Shoreland and other current ordinance revisions.
Caroline stated that they were going to speak about ordinance changes this evening, and shoreland will be discussed at the workshop on September 13th. Henry asked if the Board had any discussions since, and he was told that they have not. They’ve talked with Mike Morse of DEP, and they will have to work fairly quickly if the Town wants its own version of the shoreland zoning ordinances. Henry asked if he should talk with Mike Morse himself. If one applies for a development in the shoreland zone, Jere thinks that they might wait 6-9 months for DEP to come out to see if they’re in a shoreland zone.
There was some discussion about 250’ vs. 300’ zone around water bodies. The zone around the water bodies is 300’ that the Town voted to accept. Jere thinks there is some confusion about this. The setback from a stream is 75’, but the zone is 250’. The resource protection is a separate issue. The minimum shoreland zone in the State of Maine is 250’, Jere clarified. You cannot be less than that. Jere says he’s been told by Cliff that Saco has a 75’ setback. What is the difference between the setback and the zone? You could have a property within the zone as long as you have a 75‘ setback. Caroline clarified that a person could build in the shoreland zone 75’ from the high water mark. It is 75’ from any water
body, a person from the public clarified. Jere tried to clarify how a rural zone might have a shoreland overlay. He explained what this meant. Caroline mentioned that clustering could help those folks who are in the shoreland zone.
Henry doesn’t think he has this wetland, so where does he get clarification. Jere said that DEP has put the burden clearly on the landowner to prove they’re not in the shoreland zone. Caroline wants to put something in our ordinance to allow sending info to DEP and have them come out to look at the property.
It could be done in certain areas, a mechanism could be developed that would be something to get the maps corrected. Henry asked if something was going to be investigated. J.T. added seven parcels from the National Wetlands Inventory onto the new Shoreland Zoning map which weren’t required by DEP. Other towns have done this. Jere shared this information with Caroline, and she hadn’t seen it. Fred has written a letter to Mike Morse about this.
Harry said that if the land is developed, someone will come out and investigate this anyway. He thinks the work will be done at this time. Henry said they’ve been paying taxes on the land as residential land since they’ve owned it. Jere says this would be something to take up through the assessor’s office. Jere says he would call the assessor right away. David A says the Board is looking at the issue of 250’ vs. 300’. They’re looking at the seven parcels from the National Wildlife Inventory. Mike Morse says that since he knows they’re there now, he will investigate. David A says that since SMRPC put it on the map, they should be “on the tab.”
Brent Havu said that our own ordinances have a remedy for zoning map changes. Changes can be penned onto the map, and the Board can sign the map. Jere said the map has to be voted on by the Town. The only time the new map should be voted on is when the map is tattered or worn beyond good use, Brent clarified, according to ordinance. The map is a working document until the new one is approved. Jere says the map hasn’t been signed since 1999. Jere asked why people would vote down a new map. Scott said that the current map is legible, so there isn’t a need to vote on a new map.
Henry asked if the 13th is the time to discuss these issues of shoreland zone with Mike Morse. Brent Havu’s lot was an added one. Caroline asked if Fred has done anything further regarding the letter, and some people said that he had. She would like to see Fred send a follow-up letter and get Mike Morse to come to a meeting. She wondered if they could get him here on the 13th. Caroline will call him to see if he can come. If they have any pictures that might help, please bring them on the 13th. Harry says that one of the most frustrating parts of it is getting them out here to put their boots on the ground to see what exists. Henry asks if this is the most contentious thing they have to deal
with now, and some Planning Board members think it is. Henry asked Cliff if his property is not a wetland requiring a shoreland zone, in his opinion, and Cliff said he believed it was not.
David A said that what Mr. Havu says is somewhat correct. Brent asked him to clarify what part of what he’d said wasn’t correct. Caroline read the ordinance related to changing the Buxton Zoning Map(3.2.B. & 3.2.E.). Caroline asked why they were talking about it. Brent stated that the map was not illegible. Jere asked if they should just throw away the money they’ve spent to upgrade the map, make sure new 911 changes were made, etc. Brent asked if the Board has been signing the old map. It appears that this might be a question of concern. He questioned whether the Board has been doing what they should be doing in this regard. Scott believes that the people who voted down the map were people who were informed and aware
of what the Ordinance states.
The Board has some concerns about the parcels being added to the shoreland zoning map by SMRPC.
Caroline went through the Ordinance changes. She talked about changes in definitions, subdivision procedures, etc. Some copies of the ordinance changes are located in the Town Report. Article 13 - the change was renumbering and laying this out a little more clearly. This gave applicants a clearer idea of how they should proceed with a subdivision.
Harry thinks that the old copy and new draft of ordinance changes should be available for people to look at.
Caroline asked if they wanted to discuss net residential acreage. Jere said the voters didn’t want this because they thought it was too restrictive. Caroline thinks it is the same thing as it was - just a little clearer. Jere thinks that people thought they might be restricting the number of lots they would have. Utility easements weren’t addressed but are included in the proposed changes. If the language isn’t clear, how will people know what can be done? Cliff asked about net residential acreage. Are they talking about subdivisions only? The Board says, “yes.” Is there anything Fred will look at for individual lots? Yes, Fred has to do that now. Cliff is aware of right of ways now. Caroline says
he would be looking at anything that can be counted now. Harry asks if there is any substantive change from the way it was written to how it is now written. “The poorly drained” issue is different. Caroline thinks that #2 is sometimes an issue. Jere says it reduces the buildable area of your property. Perhaps, they could take this out if they submit the changes again. The rest is the same but clearer.
The change under “buildable area” was to match the Table 9.6.
Hammerhead should be in a separate article because it was voted down because it was part of #52. Should each one be done separately? If one portion doesn’t pass, none of it does. Caroline asked if they do it that way? A number of Board members think this is the way it should be done. Bulk fuel storage should be put back on the ballot.
David A asked if they ever got an answer about whether they can keep submitting the same things or do they have to make a change? Board members say that they could go with the same articles if they wait a year. Brent Havu says that this is written in the ordinance.
11.6.B.3 - definition of net residential acreage - say “any land” - Should #2 be taken off? Caroline suggests they do. Brent asked a question about a 5-acre lot in a minimum 5-acre zone. Jere says that “buildable area” is what needs to be looked at. Will the 20 percent slope area be taken away from the lot size? As long as you have 40,000 sq ft that’s buildable, you can still build a house. Caroline explained how you would look at the whole lot. The 20 percent slope
wouldn’t would be deducted, it just couldn’t be built on. Caroline says that perhaps there could be an example of a parcel to show people what is meant. Brent needed some clarification of the net residential acreage definition. As long as you have the 5 acres, you can build; once you take out the wetlands, etc., then you would have your buildable area.
Caroline read an ordinance from another town and wondered if it was clearer. Some people thought this might be better.
Caroline asked if Fred wants this for subdivisions as well as cluster subdivisions? She thinks this has to be clarified. She thinks some clarification at the beginning should be done.
Cliff asked about land given to children or grandchildren and does this come under subdivisions? The Board said that it doesn‘t. Jere gave an example of one where there was a problem.
Cliff asked if a person owned two lots side by side, does it become one? Right now, Buxton does not have this in their ordinance. If there are two nonconforming lots, they would be merged. Caroline will ask the attorney about the requirement of combining two nonconforming lots.
8.2.B.1 - The new one had very specific requirements whereas the old one was very general. Harry thinks that people wanted the vague language in there. It would not be hold up in court. There was much discussion about the reason for the changes. There are specific standards throughout 8, also. The original language sounds like there is a legal remedy for it, Cliff said, but the change doesn’t appear to have a legal remedy. Penny thought they went from value to use, which is why she thought people were upset about it. Could the new language have the word “value” in it? Cliff asked if the landowner would have no recourse if the word “value” is left out? The word “use” is in the sentence twice. Penny thinks that
“value” added in place of the second “use” would make it better. Caroline asked if they should just keep both the old and the new. Scott agreed that he would be in favor of keeping both.
Article 54 passed.
Harry mentioned that for cluster subdivisions they changed 10% of very poorly drained soil to 0% and voters wanted to leave it at 10%. The feeling was that landowners were being penalized by land being taken away by the Planning Board. Caroline said that there are things that can and cannot be done on land that people need to think about. Jere says that in towns where there is no public water supply and it is greater developed, there is more and more marginal land. Harry says that people want to get the most value out of their land. This only applies to cluster subdivisions. Land will already be set aside for open space, Caroline says. David A says you could lose a lot potentially. One tenth makes a difference.
There was some discussion about secret ballot vs. town meeting. A member of the audience mentioned that there would be a chance to discuss it at town meeting.
A woman asked how many lots you could put in a cluster. Harry gave a definition. Jere gave an example. Harry says he agrees with Caroline in leaving this in there.
Article 56 - Leave change as is because it gives more information and standardizes the information that would be on the application.
Article 57 - These were the zoning maps. Jere says that when he reads that section (3.2.B.), he believes that enough changes have been made to warrant a new map. David A agrees with Mr. Havu on this point. He doesn’t think they can do it now, but they need to be aware of it going forward. The zoning won’t affect the shoreland overlay. Jere thinks this is a typical unfunded mandate sent down from Augusta that affects all townspeople. He thinks a process for appeal needed to be written in to the law. The law will happen anyway whether Buxton makes any changes or not.
David S motioned, seconded by Harry, to adjourn the workshop at 10:03 p.m. Six voted in favor.
Approval Date: __10/25/10_
Harry Kavouksorian, Chairman Signature Date