Bath council OKs purchase of dump truck, TIF budgets

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the purchase of a new public works dump truck, while green-lighting budgets for three tax increment financing districts.

The panel also made final decisions on a contract rezoning for a new coffee shop and a decision on outdoor wood burners. First approvals came Sept. 5.

The city will purchase a 2019 vehicle from Freightliner of Maine for about $149,000, funds for which come from the fiscal year 2019 budget’s Public Works Sewer Capital Fund replacement account.

The truck replaces a 2005 model – the $15,000 trade-in value of which offsets the new vehicle’s original $164,000 price – and will be used to plow snow and haul materials and equipment to support sewer work, according to Public Works Director Lee Leiner.

TIF budgets

Bath has three TIF budgets.

The $1.7 million Bath Iron Works spending plan funds projects like downtown street lights, a downtown parking study and an Elm Street Plaza design, train station capital projects and Commercial Street engineering and construction.

The nearly $120,000 Wing Farm business park TIF budget partially pays a street bond and allocates road maintenance funds.

The nearly $105,000 downtown TIF budget goes toward debt service.

The respective budgets in fiscal year 2018 were $1.6 million, about $306,000, and $105,000.

“The reason that you see this in October, and that you don’t see it in June when we approve the other budgets, is because we have to wait until the taxes are committed, and then we know how much the contribution to the TIF projects (is),” Finance Director Juli Millett told the council.

Contract rezoning

Aroma Joe’s sought a contract zone to enable the owner to build a new 790-square-foot building on about a third of acre at 137 Leeman Highway (U.S. Route 1). The drive-thru coffee bar will include a walk-up service window.

The property is in Bath’s U.S. Route 1 Commercial Contract Zone, and requires contract rezoning to meet yard area and setback requirements.

“This site is very restrictive and very tight as it stands right now, so the only real way to utilize the site would be to engage in contract zoning,” Planning Director Ben Averill told the panel Sept. 5. “It’s definitely not going to be able to work width-wise or length-wise without the contract rezoning that we’re requesting.”

Without the rezoning, the minimum yard areas would be 20 feet around the parcel. Because of the size of the parcel and site configuration, Pelletier proposed building the drive-thru queuing lane and parking area in the yard area, which necessitates contract rezoning.

In return for the city granting Aroma Joe’s the rezoning, Quimby Street would be narrowed, with access points from the property to Leeman Highway closed off, boosting safety for pedestrians and motorists. Lighting would be installed along the Route 1 corridor, and improved streetscape elements like a bike rack and sidewalk would be incorporated.

Wood burners

When the City Council in May approved new and revised state fire codes  – the Life Safety Code and Uniform Fire Code – a section that included a ban on outdoor wood boilers and outdoor furnaces was inadvertently deleted, according to an Aug. 30 memo from Codes Enforcement Officer Scott Davis to the council.

The prohibition was “a separate standalone ordinance,” not part of the codes the council adopted, City Solicitor Roger Therriault noted in an Aug. 28 council memo.

The city had enacted the prohibition in 2007 “to protect properties in Bath from the impacts on these boilers,” according to Davis.

The units have stacks that are lower than a house chimney, and consequently emit smoke that hangs near the ground, where it can impact surrounding properties, particularly given the dense development of much of Bath, Davis explained.

“We may want to revisit the ban someday, and see if new technology has made these boilers emit less smoke, and/or disperse it better than the old boilers did,” he added. “To do that properly will take some time, and (has) to be done very thoroughly.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.