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Scarborough committee to look at zoning changes with rural residents

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Scarborough committee to look at zoning changes with rural residents

SCARBOROUGH — The Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee wants to include land owners in the process of formulating zoning changes for the town's rural areas.

On Thursday, April 30, at 6:30 p.m. CPIC will hold a meeting at Town Hall with landowners who live in the RF (rural residence and farming) or RFM (rural residence, farming and manufactured housing) districts, Town Planner Dan Bacon said.

"They're thinking about a different approach," Bacon said. "Instead of drafting zoning changes and then inviting landowners to the meeting they want to start with a meeting to get feedback prior to working on changes."

The two rural zones make up at least half of the town's 54 square miles, he said. While located largely west of the Maine Turnpike, some rural districts are found east of the highway, too.

The committee will begin with a brief informational presentation on what is in the Comprehensive Plan regarding the rural zone and then will entertain discussion to understand what's already working and what needs to be changed in the rural areas of town. With the current rebirth and changes to the concept of farming, Bacon said CPIC must look at "how to update to be consistent."

"Farming's changing with more emphasis on local farms and people doing more at their houses," he said. "We want to make sure the zoning corresponds and allows for that while protecting neighborhoods in the rural zone."

The committee plans to consider an expansion of what Bacon called "hobby farming," that could include pigs – a hot topic last year that was put aside for this discussion.

Right now, piggeries are not defined and they're not allowed in the rural districts so when the ordinance is read strictly, a landowner could not keep even one pig on the property, Bacon said.

"I think that's outdated," he said. "We need to strike a balance."

In addition to changes in what livestock might be permitted, the committee wants to examine the diversity of accessory uses at many of today's farms, including the possibility of cross-country skiing, petting zoos, dairy stores and farm camps that would all encourage customers and visitors to the area.

Though the zoning has been specific in areas like Eight Corners or Running Hill, it is less defined in the rural area, he said. 

Another change may be in the type of housing allowing in the rural districts. Currently, only single-family homes are permitted, but Bacon said the Comp Plan references two- and three-family homes in those zones.

"We want feedback on what people are doing and what they want to do," Bacon said.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.