China planners consider three documents at meeting

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members considered three documents at their Jan. 24 meeting.

They agreed to continue discussion of amending the Board of Appeals Ordinance (which is Chapter 9 of the Land Use Ordinance) at their Feb. 14 meeting, with members of China’s board of appeals and select board invited to participate (see The Town Line, Jan. 12, p. 2, and Jan. 19, p. 3, for background on this issue).

Co-chairman James Wilkens expressed appreciation to the select board for raising the issue, although he objected – again – to select board member Brent Chesley drafting revisions; writing ordinances is the planning board’s job, he and other board members said.

Two days later, Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood forwarded to planning board and select board members an email from Maine Municipal Association Staff Attorney Susanne F. Pilgrim saying the task is shared.

The section of the Planning Board Ordinance defining the board’s general responsibilities says the board “shall prepare ordinances and amendments thereto” to be submitted to voters. But, Pilgrim pointed out, neither that sentence nor anything else in the ordinance grants the planning board exclusive authority to draft ordinances. She referred to a later section that says, “Amendments [to the Planning Board Ordinance] initiate from the Planning Board, Board of Selectmen, or by the people in the form of a petition.”

Pilgrim’s interpretation is, “…nowhere does the ordinance provide the planning board with the exclusive authority to prepare all draft ordinances. Nor does the Planning Board Ordinance preclude other bodies, such as the select board or an ordinance committee, from preparing ordinances.”

Planners are sympathetic to one Board of Appeals issue Chesley raised, the lack of time limits for action after an appeal is filed. They also approve of updating the nomenclature in this and other sections of the Land Use Ordinance – replacing “selectmen” with “select board” and “chairman” with “chair,” for example.

Once they have input from the Feb. 14 meeting participants and any other interested parties, they plan to propose amendments to the select board. That board is responsible for putting ordinance amendments on a local ballot, probably at the June town business meeting, for voters’ decisions.

The second document discussed was China’s comprehensive plan. Co-chairman Toni Wall had excerpted sections that refer to planning board duties and responsibilities; the other board members will review them for future discussion.

Wall had also reviewed China’s Planning Board Ordinance and marked appropriate nomenclature changes. Board members unanimously accepted them; assuming voters agree, “Board of Selectmen” quoted above will become “Select Board.”

In reviewing past board minutes, Wall said, she found other suggested changes, including adding a provision for co-chairs. Further discussion is likely.

Codes Officer Nicholas French said he has been approached with preliminary proposals for a solar farm and two subdivisions. No applications have yet been submitted.


Responsible journalism is hard work!
It is also expensive!

If you enjoy reading The Town Line and the good news we bring you each week, would you consider a donation to help us continue the work we’re doing?

The Town Line is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit private foundation, and all donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Service code.

To help, please visit our online donation page or mail a check payable to The Town Line, PO Box 89, South China, ME 04358. Your contribution is appreciated!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *