LOVELL – About 60 residents showed up in the town office Wednesday for a public hearing on proposed amendments to the town zoning ordinance.

One of the biggest changes being considered is a re-evaluation of resource protection areas based on updated maps, not 1973 maps. The change would create several new protected areas, including on Horseshoe and Heald ponds; along West Lovell and Timber Island roads; at the upper bay and outlet of Kezar Lake; and along Pray Brook and Kezar River.

In addition, the amendments also create stream protection districts and add shores with slopes of greater than 20 percent to the resource protection areas.

The amendments are meant to update the ordinance to comply with the revised guidelines of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection by July 2008. The issue will go before voters at Lovell’s annual town meeting in March. If approved, the amendments will be submitted to the DEP for approval.

“As far as we’ve gone to date, we’re meeting their guidelines,” said Ed Ryan, chairman of the Planning Board.

If the ordinance is not updated, DEP may enforce the guidelines in town until the town adopts the changes.

According to the summary of the amendments, any structures that do not conform to the water setback area, reaching 100 feet back from the high water mark, would have to be moved back as far as possible with the addition of any type of new foundation.

The amendment states that a foundation that does not extend beyond the exterior of the structure or raise the structure more than three feet will not be considered an expansion.

Some of the changes will affect municipal administration in the town and are not required by the state.

The role of the code enforcement officer also is clarified. The amendments state the officer may interpret zoning districts as well as issue stop-work orders or permit revocations.

The conditions for a change of a structure’s use are increased, and the determination goes to the Planning Board rather than the appeals board under the amendments. The appeals board would also hear appeals to the code enforcement officer’s decisions.

Oxford County Superior Court would hear appeals to a stop-work order or permit revocation, as well as appeals to decisions enforcing the ordinance within shoreland zones and any administrative appeal to a Planning Board’s decision regarding a subdivision application.

Regulation of the town’s timber harvesting in the shoreland zones would be turned over to the state Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Forestry.

The Planning Board, code enforcement officer and consultant from the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission were at the meeting. Ryan said concerns from the public included changes in the definition of lot size and resource protection issues, including one resident who owns property in an existing resource protection area.

The 61-page amended ordinance is available at the town office, the Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library and the town’s Web site. A two-page summary of the proposed changes was mailed to taxpayers.

Ryan said another public hearing will take place later in the year.


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