by Mary Grow
CHINA — Starting their new meeting format, China Planning Board members spent the first half hour of their March 28 meeting discussing relevant results of the March 25 town business meeting before reviewing and approving the only application on their agenda. They unanimously granted James Brown and Decindra Parker a permit to open an animal feed and grain shop plus a flower shop with greenhouses, using the former Mainely Trains building at 360 Route 3 and its grounds.
Town meeting voters approved all but one of the proposed Land Development Code changes that had been rejected as a package in November 2016. They again refused to authorize changing the rules for enlarging non-conforming structures – those that fail to meet one or more ordinance requirements – in the shoreland zone.
Codes Enforcement Officer Paul Mitnik thought voters had two major problems with the proposed changes: they would have allowed enclosure of decks and patios without the work counting as an expansion, even though it could add living space and impervious surface from which water could run toward a lake or other water body; and they did not include any requirement to install vegetative buffers to catch run-off.
Neck Road resident Sheri Wilkens added another problem; the amendments would have allowed shoreland property owners to demolish or remove accessory structures (like sheds) and count the reduction in roof area toward enlargement of a main building. “I don’t feel too bad that it failed. I think we can do better,” Mitnik said. Board members Milton Dudley and Tom Miragliuolo agreed they were not unhappy with the vote.
Dudley suggested the board survey residents about the ordinance and possible changes before seeking another vote on amendments. Chairman James Wilkens agreed, saying the survey would help educate residents about the ordinance.
When board members turned to the application, they were careful to give their reasons for each vote, as required by the town ordinance.
Brown and Parker explained that they intend a three-part project: opening an animal feed and grain store in part of the existing building so farmers and others with animals need not travel so far for supplies; opening a flower shop in another part of the building; and adding at least two non-permanent greenhouses and a hay storage facility on the property.
The additional temporary buildings drew questions from Miragliuolo. The property is in a resource protection district; it is “grandfathered” and can be used and reused, but cannot be made more non-conforming than it already is.
Mitnik said the planning board approved a proposed reuse of the building two years ago that involved additional temporary structures. The April 2015 permit was issued to Frank Kent and Florence Donovan to use the west end of the building for a vegetable, flower and craft shop. The project included seasonal tents.
Brown said the greenhouses will have floors of crushed stone with the stone extending beyond the walls to catch roof run-off.
The application was approved with one limit and two conditions, all of which Brown and Parker accepted. The limit is that the proposed additional temporary structures cannot total more than 2,500 square feet. The conditions are that Brown and Parker designate handicapped parking spaces – they said they plan to, probably one near each entrance – and that all fertilizer be stored inside a building.
Proposed maximum business hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with Mondays off. Brown and Parker plan to operate year-round and to add Christmas trees seasonally.
The next regular planning board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, April 11.
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