Fri, Nov 28, 2014 ●
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Bath council approves Comprehensive Plan update

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Bath council approves Comprehensive Plan update

BATH — The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening in favor of an update to the city's Comprehensive Plan that has been four years in the making.

The council approved the plan with one amendment: that the city will continue its policy of not extending city-subsidized public water and sewer across Whiskeag Creek into rural north Bath; the word "subsidized" was the addition.

While the council unanimously approved that amendment and then passed the plan as a whole, another proposed amendment was defeated after a council vote of 4-4, with Chairman Bernard Wyman casting a tiebreaking vote against the change.

Councilors James Omo, Kyle Rogers, Ruthe Pagurko and David Sinclair also voted against the amendment, while Andrew Winglass, Mari Eosco, Sean Paulhus and Wayne Cochrane voted in favor of it.

The defeated amendment would have required a developer who extends public water and sewer from the existing Bath Water District system into a medium density area of the city to provide the city with a design for water service that is as safe as the existing system, and which would not be subsidized by the city. If proper volume and pressure from water district facilities could not be provided in a future land use area that has no public water and sewer, that area would have to adhere to low-density residential standards.

Omo and Rogers questioned the use of the word "safe" in the amendment. Rogers said the word could be broadly interpreted and asked for a definition in terms of its use in the plan. "‘Safe' to me means potable," Rogers said. "To somebody else it could mean fire safety."

City Planner Jim Upham responded that the word would be defined when the language returned to the council in the form of an ordinance, following review by the Planning Board. Omo suggested the use of the word "effective" instead, while City Solicitor Roger Therriault proposed "equivalent" be used.

Omo's amendment to the amendment to use "effective" instead was defeated, and the original amendment with "safe" was then defeated, too.

The Comprehensive Plan update calls for future land use areas dedicated to city fixtures like the Maine Maritime Museum and the Plant Home, and representatives from both institutions praised the plan during the public input portion of the meeting.

Dr. Richard Krejsa, a biologist and retired professor of natural resources who owns property in the city, spoke of a map in the update of critical natural areas. He pointed out that a 55-acre marsh that used to be called "Great Swamp" should be listed in the plan as a wetland of special significance.

Upham said the information on the map came from the state's wetlands database, and that he would check with the consultant who prepared the map to find out why the marsh was not listed. The planner acknowledged that there is data in the plan which is out of date, and that aspects of it have changed even since the plan's completion in June. He called for the plan to be revised once a year, a measure which the update itself proposes.

Saturdays at the landfill

Following its regular meeting the council held a workshop concerning the opening of the landfill on Saturdays, a proposal that City Manager Bill Giroux said had a "strong feeling" from the council. While no vote was taken, councilors agreed with opening the landfill – currently only open on weekdays – for the third Saturday of the month from September through December.

Giroux said the landfill may be open for five hours on Saturdays – a detail yet to be established – and that the city would review the landfill's hours of operation during next year's budget planning process.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.