China planners discuss revised ordinances they hope to ask voters to approve

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members spent a second meeting the evening of April 26 mostly discussing new and revised ordinances they hope to ask voters to approve in November (see The Town Line, April 21, p. 3).

They made two unanimous decisions about ordinance revisions.

  • One recommended change, in the Land Use Ordinance, will be to limit lot coverage in the shoreland zone to 15 percent for structures plus 5 percent for other impervious surfaces, like driveways and parking areas.
  • A second change, to the draft Solar Energy Systems Ordinance, will be to exclude commercial solar developments from the Stream Protection Zone and the Resource Protection Zone. They are already excluded from the Shoreland Zone.

After board members have agreed in principle on all revisions they recommend, they will develop wording to be presented to voters as proposed ordinance amendments.

Codes Officer Jaime Hanson had learned that state regulations set no limit on the amount of a lot covered by man-made structures and surfaces in rural zones, a topic discussed at the April 12 board meeting. There was consensus, but no formal decision, on a 30 percent limit instead of the present 20 percent limit.

Hanson pointed out that new state laws intended to promote affordable housing are likely to increase housing density, by encouraging duplexes, mother-in-law apartments and similar expansions of single-family residences.

Turning to the proposed Solar Energy Systems Ordinance, board members discussed a variety of issues it needs to cover, including minimizing effects on neighbors, making sure construction debris is cleaned up, controlling stormwater run-off and guaranteeing funds to restore the land after the solar farm reaches the end of its useful life. Board member Michael Brown volunteered to look into possible compatible uses of land under a solar array, for example for raising some type of crop.

Subject to landowner approval, board members plan to visit the solar farm on Route 32 North (Vassalboro Road), if possible immediately before their May 10 meeting.

Hanson and board Chairman Scott Rollins brought up another potential ordinance, one that would govern short-term vacation rentals. A major concern is that building-owners around China’s lakes are renting to large groups of people, potentially overloading shoreland septic systems.

The topic will be on a future agenda.


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