June 20, 2019

Corinna calls for comments on land use ordinance

CORINNA – In March before the annual town meeting, Corinna residents were told adoption of a new land use ordinance was critical. By July, residents were lining up complaints about the ordinance’s restrictive nature.

Critics of the new land use ordinance will have their forum next week, Town Manager Judy Doore said Friday.

The Land Use Ordinance Committee will meet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the Corinna Fire Annex to review proposed amendments to the ordinance and to hear public comment for suggested amendments.

Any amendments resulting from the committee’s work will be presented to voters at the March 2001 town meeting, Doore said.

Although several local residents have their own complaints about the ordinance as adopted, the State Planning Office also proposed changes to the document, she said.

The town received a grant to implement its comprehensive plan in the form of land use or zoning ordinances. Once adopted, the SPO reviewed the document and found inconsistencies between the comprehensive plan and the new ordinance, Doore said. A list of suggested changes was forwarded for the committee to consider.

In addition, the ordinance calls for an annual report on the workings of the document, asking the Planning Board, Board of Appeals or the Code Enforcement Officer to submit proposed amendments to the ordinance.

One person never changed his stand on the Land Use Ordinance. Selectman Marvin Lister made it known from the beginning he didn’t like the ordinance, and in July he was even more adamant it needed change.

Lister could not to be reached Friday to comment on his intentions in connection with Wednesday’s meeting. In July, Lister spoke against the ordinance when a Route 7 resident learned he couldn’t put up an adequate sign for a business he was buying.

Steve Chase was moving Colonial Business Machines to his home where he previously had done work for the company. Under the new ordinance, he was restricted to a sign smaller than those used by the Maine Department of Transportation for businesses.

Living in an agricultural zone, Chase was limited to running a home occupation with limited signage and only one employee. The restriction did not allow his business to grow, he said at the time. Chase pointed out there were more businesses around him than agricultural uses.

“It shouldn’t be agricultural out there,” Lister said at the time referring to the Route 7 corridor north of Corinna. “We’re limited in commercial land anyway, and we’ve closed ourselves off with our zoning.

“It needs to be changed,” Lister added firmly.

When Chase was advised to take his concerns to the Planning Board for a recommended change to the ordinance, Code Enforcement Officer Darryl Hartley said he wouldn’t be alone in the move. At the time, Hartley had refused permits for four new businesses because of the restrictions in the Land Use Ordinance.

“We’ve had several issues reflected in the minutes of people dissatisfied with the response from the code enforcement officer,” Doore said. “People need to know this [Wednesday night meeting] is their forum.

“It’s hard for us to adjust a document if we don’t hear from people who feel they have been wronged by the ordinance,” the town manager said.

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