Board decides no permit needed for home business

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members decided Tammy McGrath does not need a planning board permit for her proposed new business at her North Belfast Avenue home.  McGrath says her confectionary products will be sold on-line and perhaps at farmers’ markets and local stores, so there will be no unusual traffic at the house.  She plans no new building or other external changes. Board members therefore decided no permit is needed from them.  McGrath said her kitchen requires state approval, which she is in the process of obtaining.

In other business at the July 5 board meeting, Codes Officer Richard Dolby asked board members to consider proposing amendments to the Building Permit Ordinance.  The current ordinance says no permit is needed for various accessory structures, and without a permit, Dolby said, there is no requirement for a setback from neighbors’ property lines.

Other town ordinances have setback requirements for various types of development.  Dolby would like setbacks added to the building permit ordinance to apply to temporary garages and storage sheds and small accessory structures and decks.

Board Chairman Virginia Brackett and Dolby eventually agreed that permits should be required in the shoreland zone.  Brackett was hesitant to support any change, for three reasons.

First, Brackett said, the planning board did not write the ordinance; it was produced by a previous codes officer, presented to selectmen and approved by voters.   Dolby nonetheless believes the planning board should recommend any changes.

Second, Brackett and audience member Ray Breton feared requiring setbacks would make it impossible for people on small lots, for example in parts of North Vassalboro, to add a temporary shed or garage.  Dolby said should a property be offered for sale, banks would probably deny a mortgage if setbacks were not required.  Brackett replied it is not the planning board’s responsibility to keep people out of trouble with banks.

And finally, Brackett said, she suspects the ordinance is non-restrictive as an expression of Vassalboro residents’ traditional attitude toward regulation.

She summarized the attitude as “You live next to people, and sometimes they really tick you off with what they do with their property,” but freedom from regulation is – or at least used to be – a higher value.

Planning board members intend to meet again Tuesday evening, July 19, to continue work on proposed revisions to the shoreland ordinance.


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