China planners finish three ordinance changes

by Mary Grow

CHINA, ME — China Planning Board members used their March 15 meeting to finish getting three proposed ordinance changes in final form. They hope to ask voters to approve them at the June 14 town business meeting.

The draft ordinances are amended versions of Chapter 2 and Chapter 11 of China’s Land Use Ordinance and a new Chapter 8 of the ordinance, adding proposed regulations for solar developments.

All three documents were to be posted on the town website,, for voters’ review. Board members scheduled a March 22 public hearing on the proposed changes.

As of mid-morning March 22, preliminary amended drafts were on the website, each labeled “Further changes will be posted shortly.”

The March 15 meeting let board members ask questions, consider some of the likely consequences of the changes they recommend and correct a few typographical errors. There was no disagreement over any proposed change; all votes were unanimous.

Most of the amendments to Chapters 2 and 11 were required to conform to state standards in areas where the China ordinance was less strict than state regulations. Board members recommended the new “Solar Energy Systems Ordinance,” because they found it difficult to fit rules for sets of solar panels into an ordinance intended to apply to buildings.

After the ordinance discussion, Codes Officer Jaime Hanson suggested board members consider recommending higher fees for solar developments. The town’s current fee schedule is based to a great extent on the amount of ground covered by impervious surface, he said. It does not fit an installation with very little ground contact, and does not reflect the amount of time he puts in on a solar project.

Board members were receptive. Hanson offered to see what other towns’ solar development fees are, to provide a basis for a recommendation to China Select Board members.

Board member Walter Bennett raised the issue of private roads so muddy as to be impassable, or almost so. Hanson and board members agreed that neither they nor other town officials have jurisdiction; owners of houses served by an ill-maintained road should form a road association or take other private legal action.

As of the March 15 meeting, planners intended after the March 22 hearing to hold their next meeting Tuesday evening, April 12.


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