China board finishes review of proposed town solar ordinance

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members finished review of the proposed town solar ordinance at their Aug. 8 meeting, so co-chairman Toni Wall could send it to select board members before that board’s Aug. 14 meeting.

Wall said she would also forward recommended amendments to the Planning Board Ordinance. Voters could be asked to approve or reject either or both amended documents in November, if select board members decide to put them on a local ballot.

Wall announced that District Four planning board member Walter Bennett has resigned, effective immediately. There are now two vacant seats, District Three (southeastern China) and District Four (southwestern China).

Any resident of either district, as shown on the district map under Planning Board (under Officials, Boards & Committees) on the website, may contact the town office to express interest in being appointed.

Planning board members approved two of the three permit applications on their Aug. 8 agenda. They found the third one unready for action.

Approved were:

  • Michael Brown’s application to reopen a general store in the 9 Main Street building, in China Village, that was for many years a general store under successive owners; and
  • Michelle Bourque’s application for the existing Busy Bee daycare associated with Grace Academy, at 363 Route 3, in South China, a primarily administrative change that required planning board action.

Brown is a planning board member. During review of his application, he moved out of his chair among board members, participated in discussion only to answer questions and did not vote.

He said he has an agreement to buy the former store building as soon as the present owner’s new house is ready. His preliminary plan is to run a butcher shop and delicatessen – not a convenience store, not a sit-down café, not immediately a pizza shop.

He will not sell gas, and the underground tanks have been removed. Proposed operating hours listed in his application are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. He plans to keep the residential quarters in the back (west) part of the building, with a separate entrance.

Bourque, Grace Academy’s executive director, explained that the daycare has been licensed through the academy as long as it served only home-schooled youngsters. She wants to add public-school students and therefore needs a Maine state license, which requires a local planning board permit.

The only physical change planned is probable future addition of a fence around the playground behind the building. Operating hours will be regulated by demand.

The permit might not be used, Bourque said. She has accepted a full-time kindergarten teaching position out of town, and will open in China only if she finds qualified people to do the day-to-day work. She is proceeding with the preliminaries anyway.

Planning board members decided neither application needed a public hearing, since neither proposal was new to its neighborhood. They found both projects met all town requirements and approved them unanimously.

The third application was from Valery Flannery, who said she and her husband are selling their 166 Weeks Mills Road property. On the 5.1-acre lot are their house and garage and a separate daycare building. The daycare closed June 2, she said.

Their real estate agent suggested the Flannerys get advance approval to subdivide the property, in case a potential buyer wanted to rent multiple housing units.

Sorry, board co-chairmen Wall and James Wilkens said, “we can’t do that: we need to approve a specific application for a specific plan, not a concept. Should future owners choose to subdivide, they would need to apply to the board.”

The next regular China Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Sept. 12.


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