Town of Buxton Planning Board
January 10, 2011
Recorded by Hilda Lynch
Board Members Present: Scott Havu, David Savage, Sr.; Jeremiah Ross, III; Harry Kavouksorian
Board Members Absent: Caroline Segalla, James Logan, and David Anderson
Others Present: Henry Huntley, Heather Rumery, Cliff Thomas, Fred Farnham, and Pat Packard
Chairman Harry Kavouksorian called the January 10, 2011, meeting of the Buxton Planning Board together at 7:07 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance
Continued discussion of Shoreland and other Zoning Ordinance Regulations
Harry asked Pat Packard to join the Board this evening to see if she could shed some light on how the original zoning ordinance came into being. They’ve been struggling with why Buxton has a stricter ordinance than the DEP has. They’ve been talking about relaxing the shoreland zone overlay from 300 to 250 ft. They’ve been trying to find out about a debate and where it took place in the early 70s. More than likely, the SMRPC made a recommendation to go a little stricter than the DEP was proposing.
Pat Packard spoke about how zoning came about because there wasn’t any protection in place at the time it was put into place. Pat said it was an exciting time for the Town to come together and face the reality of Buxton being named from a town in England where there were springs under the ground. There are springs all over the place in Buxton, so the Town was appropriately named. The Saco River Corridor Commission was coming into being. There was a lot of publicity. Pat was secretary of the Planning Board for four years. The Portland Press Herald was coming out to meetings every week because of the water quality control issues.
Things started with the Saco River Corridor. There was an atmosphere of trying to keep the bar as high as they could - rather than try to face problems that would come up years later. The Town engaged an engineering firm. Pat was in on the exploratory map making and studies. They had the best people doing the research at that time. Conservation Practices Explained - a soil survey of Buxton was 60 percent completed. When looking at the map of Buxton, large areas had water. Richard Tinsman, of E.C. Jordan Co., did the work. Approximately 90 percent of Buxton that had been mapped had severe building limitations. A second map showed that the high water table was less than 1 foot below the surface at least eight months of the year
in approximately 70 percent of the area. At the time, the E.C. Jordan Co. had a way of doing map overlays. The clay soil comes into play with the caution in establishing a setback. Establishing the upland edge of the water body is where you begin the measurement, Pat says.
Pat copied a couple of examples of forested wetlands from a Google search done by her husband. She found it fascinating. If you don’t have well drained soil on the edges of the wetland, you might get into trouble with the setback. The frequency of the clay in the soil and the high water table seemed to indicate problems. Harry asked if she was involved in the Conservation Committee; it was separate from the Planning Board. The State had already started a Conservation Commission - Sterling Dow went around to the towns in Maine to encourage them to start a Conservation Commission. She copied the Maine State Conservation Commission law. Limington had one; there were eight or nine of them in our region. This made people think they should
be doing this in Buxton. Sterling Dow came to a Planning Board meeting and made his case. Pat went to the York County Planning Commission when invited to attend meetings. She was active in establishing a committee in Buxton. There was a public meeting where people came and talked about what they would like to stay protected. A woman mentioned rare irises growing in a certain place, and things like this were mentioned as places they‘d want to see protected. They did the inventory and had an overlay made - the natural resources of the town which included the water bodies, the wildlife and plants in borderline areas. The other aspect of the commission was to research areas which it would be valuable for the Town to own. She presented this at a Town meeting, and the Town agreed to it. It was around the time of voting in the Comprehensive Plan. It was kind of a courageous time because they knew people would be “bucking it.” Now, 40 years later, the same scenarios that they
dealt with before are occurring - is the land developable. There have been attempts by people to come into the Town with things that would be potentially harmful, such as, the State wanting to establish a waste dump in town. They were trying to establish a higher bar to give the Buxton people pride in their land. The zoning was more or less agreeably set. The big choice was whether to keep the big open land or consider a cluster kind of housing, such as there is in Europe. Tinsman would come with blueprints and draw up a plan of how it would be to have this cluster kind of housing - communal septic fields and such. The open space in the rural zone was zoned with a 5-acre minimum as a result. That meant everyone had to have their own septic.
Pat asked Henry Huntley about his land. He says he has family land - about 70 acres. He would like to be able to get the most use of it. Pat says that on-site inspection of the land would be necessary. She says you couldn’t possibly generalize about a forested wetland in Buxton.
Harry says he thinks what the issue is that previously portions of their land were not identified as wetlands - or protected. Then, other parcels showed up and people have questioned why this land is now under a protected status. This has been done with satellite photography, but no one has come out to look at the land. It has been difficult to get someone out here to look at the land. The landowners are asking how these portions of land were identified when they weren’t previously. Pat would like to go and look at the land.
Harry says he hoped she could shed some light on what those zones should be. She said there wasn’t a debate. She said everyone knew that you couldn’t fill wet lands. Wetlands of any kind - it was a given that it was not able to be developed. She said there is a lot of undiagnosed wetlands in the town. She mentioned the Mark Emery land. She doesn’t know how they selected Henry’s land. Harry
explained how a state and national map determined what the wetlands are in Buxton. Harry said the maps were done some time ago.
Pat says that the fact is that the big change is the unexpected amount of groundwater contamination that is happening. Perhaps, the big agencies that are responsible for this have a big responsibility. She wonders if the industrialization of formerly rural towns has heightened the awareness. She wonders if 300 ft. is a good enough distance if the land were sand and filtered? If the soil is clay, would this be different? She’s trying to focus exactly on our responsibility. She asked Fred if there was any appeal to the setback. Fred says there isn’t at this time.
Jere says that what is frustrating for the landowners is that the DEP has said portions of their land is significant, and the landowner has to hire someone to determine if the wetlands are or are not significant. It could be very costly for the landowner. Then, the landowner would have to go to the Planning Board to prove their land is buildable. She mentions that a place to start is the tax cards of the town. She would go out and look at the land. The Planning Board members would go out and look at the land, but the DEP wouldn’t take their word about the land.
Harry asks how they came up with the 300 ft. vs. the 250 ft. Was it controversial? She said it wasn’t. She says that in those days if someone came to them with 40% of their land in wetlands, they would understand that they couldn’t build on it.
Jere says that as the Town has grown, they’re being pressed into more marginal land. She says there were renegade builders in those days that would come in and fill land overnight. She says that the Board members need to get the courage to protect the land. She says the Town has an obligation to protect the groundwater - it’s only about a foot below the surface. There are springs right on top of the ground that can be documented that are headwaters of rivers. She says there’s a saying about following the money. In this case, she would follow the water. She thinks someone could speak more eloquently about cases where the land is marginal. It is a huge responsibility to protect the aquifer from contamination.
She called Don Warren, who was a mover in the planning of the transfer station - there was a brook that ran right down below town hall. He believes there may be toxic seepage into the land from the old dump into this brook. The water supply to that land may already be contaminated from the leaching of the old dump. Henry says it has not been contaminated so far. The margin of the wetland is difficult according to the pictures. The borders of a wetland are hard to distinguish and if the soil is not well drained, even the land nearby won’t “perk” very well. The Conservation Commission and the people behind this idea knew that one would also have to protect the forests for what they provide for animals and vegetation. She would walk the land
with Henry. She would like to see those responsible for protecting the land have the courage to do what needs to be done.
Harry thinks that part of the frustration is that the land wasn’t called wetlands before. Pat says that it just wasn’t diagnosed. The solution to the problem is inherent in the problem, according to an old Chinese proverb, she says.
Cliff asked Pat about E. C. Jordan doing a survey on this. They did an engineers’ plan to investigate every area of the Town. Cliff asked about the contamination from septic systems. Might this have been one of the reasons for going from 250 to 300 ft.? She says it depends on the soils. Pat asked Cliff if he could describe his land. He said it is mostly woods with a stream running through it. Cliff says it does show that the Town did hire some outside contractors to do work on this. She says she is sympathetic to the landowners. Henry described what he would like to see with his land. He would like to be able to use land that is buildable for his and relatives’ families. He would like to be able to do things,
like cut wood, if it is reasonable. He would like to preserve what is reasonable for the landowners. She asked if landowners feel that the extra 50 feet is crippling legislation? Now, with the designation, not only the 40 or 50 acres but all the area around the wetlands can’t be built on, either, Henry says. Pat asks Fred if he could add anything. She asked if Fred knew it was wet before. Fred thinks the 50 ft. more of setback is more than is needed to meet the State’s requirements. The question is if it is really necessary? The Town could increase the strictness if it warrants it. It is difficult to get a firm line on the forested wetlands. If the land isn’t going to “perk” because of Buxton clay, she can’t think of any other reason why Buxton would want to make it more strict. In the end, the people who opposed stricter regulations benefited in some ways, too.
Harry says that one of the other things is that the ordinance currently has nine named water bodies. Only Bonny Eagle Pond and the Saco River would be on this list according to the State minimum guidelines. There were six in the original ordinance - the Saco River, Stackpole and Deering Brooks were added later (1991) when wetlands were added. People he has spoken to don’t remember any debates. It may have been what SMRPC recommended, so that is how it was done.
Now, they’re talking about doing a binding question and not prolonging this further. This was done at Town Meeting and not by secret ballot so that is how it would be done. David S asked if Harry was sure it didn’t go to secret ballot. In 1976, Harry says it was done at Town Meeting.
Henry mentions a report from the Planning Board - in ‘76, the State has imposed boundaries around Bonny Eagle Pond and the Saco River. Henry is still wanting something done in a public forum and not a secret ballot. In the report to the Planning Board, it states that this land use policy is not made in stone. It can be amended at any Town Meeting. This was written by Dan Collomy. Pat asked if the land in the aquifer is the land in the shaded area. Henry says that his is. She thinks it might have been larger to keep any drainage out of the aquifer. Pat quotes an article dealing with CMP wanting to put a line through an area where the Little River went through in several places.
Fred spoke about the re-location of the communications tower at Buxton Center where the Emergency Management building is. The Selectmen are proposing taking the tower that was over by the police station and replacing the one at Buxton Center. It is a higher tower and would give full coverage of Buxton. He has a question about whether this is a replacement. The ones reviewed by the Board have been wireless, commercial towers. He doesn’t know if this falls under this category or whether it would be considered a public utility. It would be replacing an existing tower and is going to be a public utility tower and not a commercial tower. He doesn’t know what Board members think about this.
Jere asked if it would be in the same place. Fred says it would be on the same property. He has gone out and taken measurements and there is a better place to put it than it is in now. It is a different construction because it is basically free standing. He wants to find out if it could break and a section fall over.
David S asked how tall the one is that is there now. Fred thinks it is around 85 ft. It is not tall enough to handle the whole town. Jere asked if it would meet Section 11.25 in the ordinance. Fred says it would for the most part. Jere wants to know if it has been explored that the one that is here now be used and nothing put at Buxton Center. Fred will check that out.
Fred says that something the Board might want to consider is having multifamily dwellings in a rural district. They are allowed in the village zone, but not in the rural zone. If we want to preserve “ruralness” and preserve as much space as possible, it would make sense to have residences closer together. A multi-family dwelling would be one structure with 15 acres of open space instead of three houses on 5 acres each. He mentions this for the Board members to consider. David S asked if he has had any requests for this. Fred said not in any particular area. Jere clarified that the density would be the same. Fred said that for a duplex it would be half the acreage for the second unit. The density would be the same as it is in
the village zone.
Jere asked Fred about the acceptance of roads in the winter. They will look into it. Fred gave as an example of the Berube development off Rt. 22. It will have been through a winter so could potentially be approved at the next Town Meeting.
Approval of Minutes:
December 13, 2010 -
Motioned by David S, seconded by Harry, to accept the minutes as amended. Four voted in favor.
Approval of Bills:
Letter from the Selectmen saying the budget process has begun. Jere thinks they should wait for David before they work on this.
Jim Logan spoke with Mike Morse to confirm that the only two water bodies that would require the 250 ft. shoreland zone would be the Saco River and Bonny Eagle Pond.
The Buxton Historical Society is making an effort to preserve the Hanson School and is asking that Caroline Segalla provide an interview to Saco River Television regarding preserving the Hanson School. She would be doing this as a private citizen and would not be representing the Planning Board in any way, although she does have knowledge of Planning Board concerns.
December issue of “Maine Townsman”
There is a note from Jan Hill, President of Buxton-Hollis Historical Society, asking if anyone has any interest in the preservation of the Hanson School to call her at 831-9356.
Harry mentions the Shoreland Zoning newsletter - regarding State imposed ordinance status. Harry read from this - the guidelines are for drafting an ordinance - more time will be focused on the State mandated shoreland. Harry says they’ll be still acting under the ordinances prior to last June’s town meeting. Harry says it would be beneficial to follow up with the date of a hearing the DEP will hold. He would assume they would have to notify the landowners of affected property. Jere thinks they would just put a notice in the newspaper. Harry thinks it would be worth having Krystal check with Mike Morse to find out how DEP will be notifying landowners - a note in the newspaper or notifying landowners more directly.
David S mentioned a letter from the DEP about timber harvesting around shoreland zoning. He said that Krystal sent it out not too long ago. Harry said this is about state wide regulations for harvesting in wetlands. There are three options. Jere read the options.
Motioned by Jere, seconded by David S, to adjourn the meeting at 8:35 p.m. Four voted in favor.
Approval Date: _________
Harry Kavouksorian, Chairman Signature Date