With no public in attendance, selectmen make short meeting of ordinance amendments

by Mary Grow

With no members of the public present, the China Planning Board’s Jan. 29 public hearing on proposed ordinance amendments did not last long.

Since they did not need to explain the changes, board members discussed them among themselves, making one final adjustment to wording, and unanimously forwarded them to China selectmen with a request to add them to the April 6 town business meeting warrant.

Codes Officer Paul Mitnik had prepared a two-and-a-half page summary of the recommended changes. Most are in Chapter 2 of China’s Land Use Ordinance and are intended to eliminate duplications and contradictions and clarify requirements, rather than make major substantive changes.

For example, planning board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo told selectmen at their Feb. 4 meeting that rules governing septic systems will, if voters approve the changes, clarify that relocating a structure also requires updating the septic system if it does not meet current standards.

Another proposed change eliminates the requirement that a septic system have at least 1,000 square feet of land, because, Mitnik’s summary says, the requirement can make replacement of grandfathered systems on small lots near lakes impossible and because new technology allows smaller disposal beds.

Another group of changes, discussed at length as board members worked on the ordinance, separates commercial campgrounds from individual private campsites and clarifies which rules apply to which type.

A commercial campground is an area “providing temporary accommodation to the public for a fee in a recreational vehicle or tent.” A private campsite also provides temporary living in a tent or recreational vehicle, but is “used exclusively by the owner of the property and his or her family and friends.”

The planning board further recommends changes in a few of the definitions in Chapter 11 of the Land Use Ordinance and an amendment to the Subdivision Ordinance saying selectmen set fees the ordinance requires. Currently subdivision fees are listed in the ordinance, and therefore can be changed only by an ordinance amendment approved by voters.

At their Feb. 4 meeting, selectmen discussed some of the proposed changes, especially the section on private campsites, for half an hour before voting unanimously to add them to the April 6 warrant.

Miragliuolo told the selectboard, “Nothing any of us [planning board members] felt was controversial is in here.” There are more controversial issues to be reviewed for a later town vote, he warned; China has only conditional state approval for its Land Use Ordinance until voters bring shoreland provisions into compliance with state regulations.

Selectman Ronald Breton, former planning board chairman, supported presenting the amendments to voters with the comment, “I sat on that [planning] board long enough to know nothing’s going to be perfect.”

In other business Jan. 29, Miragliuolo announced he had received an email from District 3 board member Milton Dudley announcing his resignation from the board. District 3 is the southeastern part of China. The position of alternate at large is also vacant. That board member can live anywhere in town.

Board members canceled their Feb. 12 meeting, unless Mitnik receives an application for review. Their next regular meeting would be Feb. 26.


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