Board to review proposed demolition ordinance

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WILTON — The Planning Board will continue its review of a proposed zoning ordinance on building demolitions when it meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Town Office.

Learning from the experience with the halted demolition of the Forster Manufacturing building on Depot Street, town officials realize they must make residents aware of the process required to demolish a building, whether it’s a large commercial building or a private home.

Last month, the board began a review of a draft that mirrors state requirements, Code Enforcement Officer Paul Montague said Tuesday.

“Basically, we’ve put all the state requirements in one basket,” he said. “Demolition of any building requires contacting the Department of Environmental Protection. If someone comes in and wants to take something down, we can steer them in the right direction.”

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The proposed ordinance requires single-family homes and commercial/ multifamily buildings to acquire written documentation that the demolition project meets the requirements of DEP’s Lead and Asbestos Hazard Prevention program, even if there is no asbestos present before a permit is granted.

In the case of the former Forster mill, the board’s review was based on a demolition-site-plan review of what the space would look like when it was done, Montague said. The process was not geared toward demolition. The town had never before offered demolition permits.

Research for the draft showed few towns with similar ordinances, he said. Some were found outside Maine but would not fit Maine’s laws.

Since the issues with the Forster mill began last summer, DEP has prompted the town, and residents, to be aware of what they need, including many items based on federal regulations.

Little training is available on asbestos demolition for towns or code enforcement officers, he said.

The proposed ordinance also requires outstanding water, sewer and tax bills to be paid and a Planning Board review in which the applicant must show it has sufficient financial resources to complete the project.

The ordinance includes site cleanup, grading and replanting within 90 days of demolition and rules for damaged buildings, either by fire or other causes. A permit for demolition or reconstruction is needed within 90 days and work to remove or restore a building damaged by fire must begin no later than 120 days from the date of the fire.

If the Planning Board approves the draft Thursday, the proposed ordinance would move on to a public hearing and review by the town’s attorney before being added to the town meeting warrant. If not, officials will continue to work on it, Montague said.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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