Cape Elizabeth moves closer to bag fee, foam ban

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council set a public hearing to discuss regulating the use of polystyrene foam and single-use carryout bags at all food stores. 

Councilors on Oct. 11 also unanimously approved amendments to an ordinance restricting domestic fowl from roaming on neighboring property and declined a request for the rezoning of 27 Fowler Road. 

A Nov. 6 public hearing will discuss ordinances that would ban polystyrene foam – except for perishable food shipments and in an emergency – and require a 5-cent fee for single-use carry-out bags at food stores. 

The regulations mirror ones implemented in Portland and South Portland. 

According to a Sept. 5 memorandum to councilors from Town Planner Maureen O’Meara, polystyrene foam is composed of styrene and benzene – both carcinogenic – and pollutes the environment by breaking into small balls that are transported by the wind and difficult to pick up. 

A charge for single-use plastic and paper carryout bags would apply to all food stores in town, excluding restaurants.

Recycling Committee member Kara Law said the committee considered a fee at all retail stores, but opted against adding it to the ordinance after consulting those who would be affected. 

According to Law, 16 of 19 retailers provided feedback on the draft ordinance. She said some don’t use single-use carryout bags, while others felt the ban may have a negative impact on business because many customers are prepared to pay a charge for bags at food stores, but not at retail stores. 

“We may not have developed … habits (of bringing recyclable bags or paying fees for plastic bags) at places we don’t visit regularly,” Law said. She added all food stores in town seemed to support a fee. 

Backyard chickens

On July 10, the Council referred amendments to the domestic fowl ordinance to the Ordinance Committee in response to reports of chickens roaming onto neighboring properties. 

The reworded ordinance bans all animals, with the exception of dogs – which are regulated under a separate ordinance – from private property without consent of the property owner. Previously, the ordinance only prohibited horse, cow, goat, ox, swine, and “other grazing (animals).” 

Council Chairman Jamie Garvin said as long as property owners don’t have a problem with an animal or animals roaming on their lawns, there is no issue. However, if they do, they now have an ordinance to back them up. 

“The salient part of the wording is ‘without permission of the property owner,'” he said. 

Councilor Kathy Ray said the rewording gives the ordinance teeth and gives the town authority to act more rapidly to situations and complaints currently governed by state provisions. 

Zoning 

The Planning Board advised the Town Council to reject Bradley Pearson’s request to rezone his property at 27 Fowler Road from Residence A to Business B, which would allow him to operate Anything Goes – his South Portland property management company – from his residence.

Planning Board Chairwoman Carol Anne Jordan said the board had been discussing the request in workshops since April. 

The council unanimously agreed with the Planning Board’s Sept. 19 vote not to recommend the rezoning because of concerns of setting a precedent, increased traffic in the neighborhood, and existing violations on the site.

Town Manager Matt Sturgis said that, during multiple site reviews, the Planning Board had noted unresolved problems, including building code and zoning violations, and electrical issues. 

Pearson said that he thought the violations could be addressed in a day, contingent on rezoning.

“I’m just trying to make this work so I can be back in the town where I was born and raised,” he said.

Councilor Jessica Sullivan said she was surprised by the number of violations that were unresolved and does not support any zone changes in the neighborhood. 

Councilor Sara Lennon added that she celebrates the work Anything Goes has done for the community, but doesn’t support rezoning because it could set a precedent for other residents whose properties abut the business zone. 

“In no way is my vote to penalize you,” Lennon said to Pearson. “… (But) I believe we have zones for a reason.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

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  • Mainer1

    More stupid taxing of residents- try to do something constructive Council!