Houlton planning board revamps local ordinances

This story was published on June 10, 2004 on Page B2 in edition 1 of the Bangor Daily News

HOULTON – When you need a word or term defined, it’s usually best to turn to a dictionary for the precise meaning. Acknowledging that some terms are open to interpretation, however, the town’s planning board wants to assure that the dictionary is a last resort when defining local ordinances.

Code Enforcement Officer Wade Hanson said Wednesday that the planning board spent more than two hours on Tuesday evening working on revisions to existing ordinances and establishing guidelines for newer mandates.

“The board talked about some basic revisions that we need,” Hanson said Wednesday. “There are no specific areas that need to be addressed; we are just looking at the overall picture.”

The Northern Maine Development Commission will assist in rewriting the ordinances, Hanson said, and the planning board is giving suggestions about definitions that need to be added. In a recent interview, Hanson said that there have only been minor revisions to town ordinances since the 1960s, and there are some terms for which there are no definitions. During a recent zoning board meeting, the group had to pull out a dictionary to define the term “general store.”

Even that was met with some contention after the owner said he planned on selling guns at the business. One board member said she “didn’t think of guns” when she thought of goods sold at a general store.

Hanson said that he expected the rewrite process to take up to 18 months and that the group was “not even close” to finishing.

“We’re just discussing definitions at this point,” Hanson said Wednesday. “We’ve just given a little spark to the fire.”

In other business, the board also paved the way for the Hollywood Pet Salon to open at 70 Main St. in Market Square. The enterprise will be a pet grooming service. The board reviewed a sign request from the owners, Robert and Lorraine Monfils, as the business is located in the town’s historic district. The new company will occupy the building that was once Guiod’s Fitness Center and was most recently The Alternative.

The couple planned to put a sign on both the front and side of the building, according to a sketch provided by Hanson. The owners withdrew the request for the latter sign, which would have been affixed to a section of the building located on Mechanic Street.

“The owners felt that the sign on the side of the building might be intrusive,” Hanson said. “So they withdrew it, but otherwise, the sign review went through smoothly.”