NEW GLOUCESTER — It was standing-room only at Tuesday’s public hearing on proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Maps. Some were forced to stand on a porch when the meeting room’s capacity was exceeded.

The Planning Board after an hour of public comment voted 6-0 not to recommend passage of the document to selectmen but to work through the public’s concerns. The town’s Land Use Planning Committee is tasked with working on the issues.

Code Enforcement Officer Deb Parks said the town passed the July 1 deadline set by the state for mandatory shoreland zoning and is out of compliance. The town’s Shoreland Zoning map adopted in 1993 was never approved by the state and missed several wetland areas, she said.

“A lot of these changes have never been enforced,” she said.

The board heard a steady stream of testimony from residents opposed to the broad document that changed definitions, applied standards town-wide and integrated a Shoreland Zoning section.

The mandatory zoning of May 1, 2006, defined by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection was the subject of widespread concern about the restrictions placed on private land holdings and left unanswered questions about what people could and could not do with their property, if adopted.

Attorney Paul D. Pietropaoli of Perkins Thompson Hinckley and Keddy of Portland, representing Pineland’s October Corp., said he had many concerns about the broad changes and scope of the amended ordinance on how it changes the use of the Pineland property and other holdings in the town owned by October Corp.

“There are a number of examples for us to question if the scope of this is appropriate,” he said.

“There is a domino effect of structures and buildings based on square footage that changes the whole calculus, with unintended consequences,” said Pietropaoli, adding that he was still in the midst of studying the document.

Lillian Nayder of Lake View Drive said, “You have taken most of the lake district and made it rural residential and made it open to commercial development. A commercial greenhouse could go in 300 feet from the lake. In the past we have been looking at the watershed as a whole.”

Planning Board Chairman Jean Libby said the message she was getting was “back to the drawing board.”

Nick Karamessinis of the Outlet Road said, “Honestly, I don’t understand why you want to protect the lake’s asset less now for the future.”

Townspeople said the changes could affect their property values and what they can do with existing structures and land.

New Gloucester Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve Libby said, “There is more here than meets the eye. There are 85 changes that will cause the ordinance to be thrown out (by voters).”

The document integrates shoreland zoning into the town-wide ordinance instead of a separate ordinance.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” said Duane Maschino. “People need a place to talk this over.
The public spoke about the limited notification process.

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