Selectmen defeat proposed zoning ordinance


RUMFORD – Selectmen approved five referendum questions to go before townspeople in June, and rejected two others during a three-hour meeting Tuesday night.

Nixed was a land-use ordinance that would have dictated where businesses, residences, medical facilities, industry, historical districts, agricultural uses and other specific structures and uses would be allowed.

The proposed ordinance was largely designed around the town’s existing land uses and was meant to control growth.

Wednesday afternoon, Town Manager Steve Eldridge, said it was up to the board what step, if any, should be taken now that the proposal was defeated 3-2.

He, along with Selectman Mark Belanger, Code Enforcement Officer Richard Kent, Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments planner John Maloney, and several others have been working on the proposed zoning ordinance for about a year.

Belanger said he hopes the Land Use Committee will take another look at the proposal after the June elections.

Voting with Belanger was Selectman Jolene Lovejoy.

Also defeated was a proposal to eliminate the 40-acre or larger exclusion from having to go through the subdivision process.

Voters will decide whether to provide wellhead protection for the Scotty Brook and Ellis River areas, along with replacement of the town’s E-911 ordinance with one aligned with state addressing requirements.

They will also decide whether to adopt a sexually-oriented business ordinance that would specify distances such businesses must be located from schools, churches and parks, among other regulations.

Also, several amendments to the pet ordinance will go to a vote. These include increasing the number of dogs a home may house from four to five before a kennel license is required and an increase in release and impoundment fees, and in fines and penalties.

Residents will be asked to change the word “bylaws” in all references, to the word “ordinances.” The term bylaws is considered antiquated.

Lovejoy said about 20 people attended Tuesday’s special hearing.

Townspeople will vote on the questions during the June 13 referendum election.

Selectmen will take up another controversial issue at 6 p.m. today when they will discuss and possibly act on a proposal that would change the town meeting format for acting on the municipal budget to making such decisions through referendum vote.

If approved, the traditional annual town meeting would be eliminated.