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Town Seal
Planning Board Minutes 05/14/2012
Town of Buxton Planning Board
May 14, 2012

Recorded by Hilda Lynch

Board Members Present:  John Vedral, David Savage, Sr.; Jeremiah Ross, III; Harry Kavouksorian; and James Logan (left at 7:45 p.m.)

Board Members Absent:  Lawrence Curtis and Susanne Schaller

Others Present:  John Caramihalis, Henry Huntley, Cheryl Huntley, Cliff Thomas, Jim Dunn, Gail Landry, Glenn Miller, Dennis Santolucito, Dylan and Amy Elderkin, Diane Marrolte(?), Cliff Emery, Heather Rumery, Scott Lyons, Fred Farnham, Susan Orfant Gillette, Jack Chase, Josh Vetro.    

Chairman Harry Kavouksorian opened the Buxton Planning Board meeting of  May 14, 2012, at 7 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance

Public Hearing for proposed ordinance amendments to the Buxton zoning ordinance regarding building on non-conforming vacant lots.

Motioned by Jere, seconded by John, to open the public hearing.  Five voted in favor.

        John missed the last meeting; he was surprised to see changes made after their last discussion.  He thought they were clarifying that people could use their vacant lots; but at the last minute, the lot size was boosted to 40,000 sq. ft.  He asked why this happened?  
        Harry said that the Board agreed that this was justified.  John thought that the amount of land had been doubled and that it was flexible down to 20,000 sq. ft.  He questions the justification at the last minute.  Jim recalls that when they were considering this, they had the lots that had been compiled, so it wasn’t affecting a large number of people.  People who own 23 lots would have to go before the Board of Appeals.  Jere says that the zoning ordinance doesn’t allow building on these nonconforming lots at all.  This modification changes buildable area.  Harry stated that buildable area has five different criteria.  Currently, the ordinance states 60,000 in the rural zone and 40,000 sq. ft. in all other areas.  In the ordinance, there are separate definitions.  John says he didn’t think there was much public discussion about this.  
        Jere clarified that items do go on the ballot before the public hearing.  Jim says that he thought this was a compromise between 40,000 and 20,000 sq. ft. lots, which is the minimum that the State allows.  It’s still 50% of the minimum lot to be built upon even in the village zone.  
        Henry Huntley owns a half-acre lot.  He says that building area had exceptions for grandfathered lots.  Do other towns have  acre grandfathered lots?  Jim says towns deal with nonconformance in different ways.  Some automatically deal with stand alone lots - most will allow something to happen if other requirements can be met.  
        Henry wants to know how this affects lots in subdivisions.  Jere says that if the lots are created after zoning, they would have to meet the requirements.  
        Henry asked if a house were torn down and not re-built within a year, what would happen?  Planning Board members said that this would affect all lots in town.  This is not the case with a lot that had a use on it.  Anything beyond ’76 is a moot point, Henry says.  Lots that were legal at that time, he feels should be legal now.  Henry says that there are 51 lots that won’t change - 27 under 20,000 sq. ft.  For properties like his, they’ve been paying taxes for many years.  They haven’t questioned a $63,000 value because it was considered a buildable lot.  
        Harry says the Board has no control over taxes assessed.  He says it’s up to the taxpayer to have the lot re-assessed.  Lots that are now grandfathered will now require a variance, according to the attorney.  Harry refers to 4.2.F.1.  Lot size and buildable area are the same and lot width and frontage are the same.  
        Henry had always assumed that these nonconforming lots were buildable if grandfathered.  The amendments tonight are in order to provide some flexibility, Harry stated.  Henry says that going from the 20,000 to 40,000 is where he has a problem.  
        Jim says they’re doing this to enable people who have these smaller lots be able to build on them.  Jim says they could go to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) with lots less than 40,000 sq. ft.  There are other ways of addressing this, but this is something brought to the Board by Code Enforcement.   Harry mentions that Table A is pretty clear.  Jim says that Henry’s lot, the way it sits now, wouldn’t be buildable anyway.  
        Harry believes the table has been in the ordinance for about 20 years.  Henry’s biggest contention is the 40,000 sq. ft.  The State of Maine has not changed the minimum lot size for decades.  Harry says that the Town is more restrictive in many ordinances.  Jim says that in the past, on the Comp Plan Committee, they’ve spent a lot of time polling residents - two to five-acre lot sizes are what people want.  Harry believes that the dimension table has been in the ordinance since 1976.  The formula Fred created was designed to work on all lot sizes - proportional to whatever size the lot was to begin with.  Fred was having trouble issuing building permits.  Henry will defer to Fred.
        Fred spoke about the difference between buildable area and building area.  Building area was what we’ve had since ‘76.  In this lot, the area that the water table was within 15 inches of the surface would not be considered building area.  Buildable area has 5-6 other factors involved:  more than 20 percent slope, required open space, resource protection districts (net residential acreage requirements).  One has to take away from lot size:  area located within a public right of way, land area regularly covered by water, land area w/poorly drained soil.  This last one was the only criteria for building area.  Sustained slopes of 20% or more, any land identified as wetlands or flood plains, located within utility easements or rights of way are also included.  His concern was that because these are nonconforming lots, they’re going to be much smaller in all zones.  40,000 sq. ft. is required in the Village Zone.  How can we apply these buildable areas to nonconforming lots?  He thought it was fair to maintain the same ratio of a conforming lot for nonconforming lots.   They wouldn’t be asked to have any more percentage-wise than a conforming lot.  
        John says that with that example, a nonconforming lot would only need 10,000 sq. ft. if the lot was only 20,000 sq. ft.  John mentions the footnote and the sentence after it.  That was the amendment that Sue had made, Jere stated.  John thinks the 40,000 negates what Fred wanted to achieve.  The Town Attorney is saying that folks with lots 20,000 - 40,000 sq. ft. could go to the ZBA for a variance.  John says that there is no statement that appears to allow this.  Fred says it should be 20,000 sq. ft. because that is the minimum the State requires.  John thinks there’s too much involved in zoning and affecting the value of people’s properties.  Harry thinks there are two sides to this.  Fred says there are about 79 nonconforming lots.  Jere asked how many lots there were in Town - about 3500.  This is a small percentage they‘re talking about tonight.  On the tax map of ’53, there were about 39 nonconforming lots.  Even if only 1 percent of lots, it affects 100% of the homeowner’s property, John stated.  If you don’t vote for it because people don’t like the last line, it throws out what is good above it, Jere says.  John is concerned about making the decision too close to this going to print.  Jim says if you can get a waiver for a 20,000 lot, where is the limit?  

        Cliff Emery says if he’d known that they were thinking of taking lot sizes from 20,000 to 40,000 sq. ft., he thinks there would be more people involved.  People voted to grandfather the nonconforming lots in ’76, and he thinks this is being taken away.  He refers to the last sentence.  
        The 20,000 sq. ft. in the existing ordinance gives people no relief.  The Planning Board has no intention of taking away people’s rights.  This is out of context, Jim says.  When the people agree what can be built upon, Cliff questions what is being said.  With the 20,000 sq. ft. in the ordinance today, you can’t build on these lots because you wouldn’t have the buildable area.  Jim says that Fred’s formula allows 20,000 sq. ft. with a buildable area of 10,000 sq. ft. and questions whether one could put a well and septic on it.
        What is affected by taking 20,000 and making it 40,000 sq. ft.?  How did that affect some lots, Cliff asked?  Did it negatively affect any of those grandfathered lots?  Harry says it affected 23 lots negatively.  They’re no longer buildable.  Cliff says that Harry is saying that they wouldn’t have been buildable before because one couldn’t meet building area.  How do you know that these 23 lots don’t have a buildable area?  Harry says that the minimum buildable area is going to be on a lot of 40,000 sq. ft.  If it does not meet the buildable area requirements, one would have to go to the ZBA or District Court.  A person can’t just walk into Fred’s office and get a permit; one would have to go through a process, Cliff says.  When he heard that sentence, he thought the lot was just a piece of junk now.  Harry says that the lot still has value but more restrictions.  Harry referred to the word “shall.”  The smallest lot size is 40,000 sq. ft. currently.  There are about 79 nonconforming lots now.
        John says that if the last sentence hadn’t been tagged on, this wouldn’t have created such a problem.  Jere says there would be 56 additional lots in the Town that could be buildable due to changes in this ordinance; if this does not pass, there will be 79 lots that would not be buildable.  Jere says they’ll see what the voters think.  John says the Board doesn’t have a chance to make changes now because the change was made just before this had to go on the warrant.  
        A nonresident suggested having the 79 people come in to discuss their lot size and see if it can be buildable.  Jere says then the person can go to the assessor if taxes need to be changed.
        Josh Vetro owns one of the nonconforming lots.  He refers to the last sentence.  Harry believes it means that the ordinance prohibits building on lots less than 40,000 sq. ft., but the ZBA has the authority to grant variances unless it states somewhere in the ordinance otherwise.  The way it reads on the Town ballot makes it misleading in the wording, Josh thinks.  In ’76, they knew that lots were going to be nonconforming; they have been grandfathered as a building lot.  He thinks it changed in June last year.  Harry says the table has been such for 20 years.  He doesn’t think it was the intent to change the ordinance in a negative way as it affects the nonconforming lots.  
        Josh says now he’ll have to pay a fee and be turned down; then he’ll have to go to the ZBA to plead his case.  He says it is very frustrating when he could build on it just a few years ago without having to go before the ZBA.  Jere read from the Town attorney’s statement saying that people can still go to the ZBA.  Jere reiterated statements he’d made before.  
        Jack Chase was at the meeting prior to the one in which this was changed.  He’s concerned about the change happening without any notification.  Harry says the last meeting had the same amount of notice as the previous meeting.  Jack received a letter about a pony being on an abutting property, but Josh didn’t receive any notice about something affecting his property like this ordinance change does.  Harry says the difference is that direct abutters get notice when Conditional Use Permits are being applied for.
        Cliff Emery asked if someone could remember to schedule a public hearing before the absentee ballots have gone out next year.  People are voting who haven’t heard the public hearing.  Cliff says the Selectmen will have to have a public hearing on this on Wednesday night; he suggests a joint meeting/hearing - at least two weeks prior to where they are now.  Jere suggested that John Myers move the dates up a month or so.

Jere motioned, seconded by David, to close the public hearing.  Four voted in favor.  

Public Hearing for Patterson Companies, LLC, who is requesting a Conditional Use Permit for Auto Parts Retail and Warehouse Facility at 780 Narragansett Trail.  The property is located in the Light Commercial District on Tax Map 8, Lot 41-1.

  • Harry motioned, seconded by John, to open the public hearing.  Four voted in favor.
        John Caramihalis spoke about their purchasing the building on the corner of Routs. 22 and 202, adding on 2,000 square feet.  The building will be painted in NAPA colors, re-paving the parking lot, parking spaces will be added based on requirements (2,000 sq. ft. retail and 4,000 sq. ft. wholesale).  Will be taking out some plantings in front, not changing the lawn area, removing some impervious area, and keeping it looking similar to what is there now.  
        John asked about the driveway widths--the current entrances vs. what will be used by new tenants.  There was a question about curb cuts.  There is no change to the existing curb cut, culverts, or drainage as it conforms to DOT requirements.  There will be striping w/directional arrows, a painted island, and one handicapped spot.  The previous owner had to bring in larger vehicles than they anticipate now.  Harry mentioned the hazardous materials list; NAPA provided a listing.  The other question was about lighting on the building - 10 ft. off the ground would provide 40’ of lighting.  John provided a lighting calculation.  A 70-watt bulb will cast a 40 ft. area, with downcast shades.  The Board would limit the number of employees to 10 at any one time due to septic size.   John provided a building layout.

Harry asked if there were any questions from abutters or the public.

Jim Dunn asked, will there be any machining on the site?  What are the hours of operation?  John says they’re open until 6 p.m.  There is a truck that comes in to deliver materials after they’re closed, one tractor trailer weekly, otherwise a 28’ box truck.  They’ll ask for 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

Harry asked if Fred had any questions.  He had none.

  • Motioned by Jere, seconded by David to close the public hearing.  Four voted in favor.
Harry read the standard Conditions of Approval:
        1. All elements and features of the application and all representations made by the applicant concerning the development and use of the property, which appear in the record of the Planning Board proceedings are conditions of the approval. No change from the conditions of approval is permitted unless an amended plan is first submitted to and approved by the Planning Board.
        2. That the applicant be in compliance with all applicable provisions of Article 8.2.B & 10.
  • Harry motioned, seconded by David, to waive the reading of 8.2.B and 10.  Four voted in favor.
        3. That the applicant be in compliance with all applicable provisions of
Section 11. (if applicable)
  • Harry motioned, seconded by Jere to waive the reading of Section 11.  Four voted in favor.
        4. All outstanding bills paid before building permit is issued.

Additional conditions:
        5. The total number of employees will be 10 at any one time.
        6. The hours of operation will be 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. seven days a week.
        7. The retail space is limited to 2,000 sq. ft.

  • Jere motioned,  Harry seconded, that based on previous discussions, we find the application to be in compliance with all applicable provisions of Articles 8.2.B, 10 & Section 11 (if applicable).   Four voted in favor.
  • Jere motioned, seconded by Harry, to approve the application with the conditions stated and from previous meetings.
Jere mentioned that the Planning Board meeting will be moved to May 29th because of Memorial Day.  If John provides the drawings to the Code Enforcement Office, they’ll sign them and approve the Findings of Fact.        

Gail Landry has submitted an application requesting a Conditional Use Permit for an Inn and Social Events Facility at 668 Narragansett Trail.  The property is located in the Business Commercial District on Tax Map 6, Lot 36.
        Gail said she has had the most welcoming time here in Buxton.  She wishes to have a social facility at her property.  She doesn’t wish to use it as an inn - but a private residence in conjunction with an event at the barn.  The private residence will be closed during events.  People will be required to bring portable toilets for events.  They’re going to use the farmhouse, offer it for people on a short-time basis when they have an event in the barn.  They currently rent their facility from Wednesday to Sunday in North Yarmouth.  
        Harry clarified that the residence would be used for people having an event.  It would be considered separate from the larger event requirements.  Gail says that people would bring in their own caterer who’d have their own licenses.  They’d have to show insurance.  If the caterer doesn’t have a license to serve alcohol, they can purchase insurance if the caterer approves.  
        John asks if they’re living there, and “no,” they aren’t.  Why is it not being called a hotel or inn?  An inn requires 15 rooms or more, Gail says, and they have four bedrooms and they’re not providing food services.  He saw they got a curb cut for a residence from DOT.   There will be only one event per week, Gail stated.  Typically, the family of the bride would use the property during that time.  John says they’d be using it as a hotel, it seems.  The application for DOT states it is a home-based business.  This category is not named in our ordinance.  Jere thinks it is an inn/hotel or bed and breakfast.  John says it is a commercial venture - not a residence where someone is living all of the time.  Gail says there’s no intent to be deceptive.  Harry says he thinks it more closely fits an inn or hotel.  John says it would fit in this zone.  Harry and Jere explain why they need to interpret the use.  Gail will be asking permission to use it for daily use with people not actually staying there.   It would be more of a communal facility.  The issue of people lodging there and where they fit into the ordinance is the issue.  The Board is suggesting it be considered an inn.  David asked how many people the septic would accommodate in the inn itself.  Gail said 10.  How many people could sleep there?  Nine, they say.  Septics are rated according to the number of bedrooms.  Are they different for a commercial property?
        Fred has asked her to have a site evaluator design a system.  The evaluator will use the numbers needed.  They’ll be expanding to five bedrooms.  
        Harry asked if she’s had a discussion with the Fire Chief.  Fred says the State Fire Marshall will be doing that.  Her barn in North Yarmouth is 33’ x 56’ and fire rated to 280 people, and she voluntarily restricted it to 200 people.  
        John asked about off street parking because he thought it needed to be corrected in a number of places.  There will be parking attendants.  The Fire Marshall will tell us how many people could attend an event.  One space per rental unit would be needed for parking; additional parking will be needed for the barn.  
        Harry asked if they were planning to put up a tent?  Gail says they would at times.  Jere asked Fred about temporary tents.  Fred will check.  
        John read from the MDOT permit - for a home business - 22 ft. wide cut.  He’s not sure if this would be adequate for the proposed use.  In North Yarmouth, they agreed on 22 ft. for two buses to pass each other at the same time, and a turnaround for emergency vehicles.  John mentioned the Buxton location would mean a 50 mph speed limit.  John mentions that she is responsible for double checking.  She’ll check with the DOT.  DOT said she could only have one entrance because it is an arterial road.  
        Are there any handicapped spots allocated?  She said she could place them wherever the Board thinks appropriate.  Fred will find this out.  John asked if the barn has any handicapped accessibility.  She says there will be ramps in the front and the rear.  Jere refers to the second page of Fred’s letter.  Fred would check on life/safety issues when he goes out for final inspection.  
        Jere says the plan is really two plans - the scale is different for the house and parking lot.  David asked if she asked for a separate entrance for commercial vehicles.  She asked for the circular drive so cars came in one and out the other.  She would only be granted a single entrance.  Fred was asked if a MDOT permit was needed for a single residence on a state road.  He says they do.
        Harry wants to be sure that the applicant is aware of amendments needed to the application.  They would have a site walk and then review the amended application.  David says there is a lot of refuse from work being done - possibly in the area where they would be doing the site walk.  The lumber in front of the barn will be in the barn after the floor is done this week.  There is excavation debris but she’s left everything as is - per Fred’s instructions.  There is a path where one can walk around the building.  They discussed dates for site walks.

  • Motioned by Jere, seconded by Harry, to hold a site walk for the above on Monday, 5/21/12 at 6:15 p.m. on site.  Four voted in favor.
Harry reviewed what will be happening next, clarification on the use, change statements regarding off-street parking, clarification of number of cars.  Jere asked if there was a problem w/people attending the site walk.  Gail said she didn’t have a problem with that.   

CEO Report:  None this evening.

Approval of Minutes:
        April 23, 2012
  • Jere motioned, seconded by David, to approve the minutes as amended.  Three in favor; John abstained.  
  • Jere motioned, seconded by Harry, to rescind vote because of a lack of a quorum at this meeting.  Three voted in favor; John abstained.  They’ll review minutes again when they have a quorum.
Approval of Bills:

No bills this evening.


~Notice that Robert Yarumian’s intent to file an application with Saco River Corridor Commission to repair a wall behind his house.
~Notice from Pipeline Safety - workshop on June 7 at Double Tree Hotel, near Maine Mall

Other Business:

  • Motioned to move the meeting of Memorial Day, seconded by David, to May 29, 2012.  Four voted in favor.
  • Motioned by Jere, seconded by David, to adjourn the meeting at 9:16 p.m.  All voted in favor.
Approval Date:          5/29/12                 

_________________________________           _______________
               Harry Kavouksorian, Chairman                    Signature Date

Town of Buxton
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