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FREEPORT — An amendment to the zoning ordinance that allows smaller lots and more open space in some rural districts has been approved by the Town Council.
The Dec. 15 vote adds a rural flexible lot development section to the town’s zoning ordinance. The amendment, which was recommended by the Planning Board, applies to rural residential districts 1, 1A, and 2, and the Resource Protection 2 District.
The purpose of the new section is to “provide landowners in rural districts an alternative approach to lot development.” It allows for the same density as traditional lots, and for flexibility in the size and shape of lots. The amendment will mean more open space can be set aside, with the hope of protecting environmentally sensitive areas.
Rural flexible lot developments can be created on parcels of land larger than 7.5 acres. The landowner would also own the “open space lot,” and create a rural flexible lot development by including flexible lots within the parcel. The flexible lots could be arranged in any way, but the intent would be to create more open space through cluster housing.
The minimum lot size for a flexible lot is 20,000 square feet, and the maximum is one acre, with minimum road frontage of 100 feet required. In traditional lot development, and with the open space lot, the minimum lot size is 2.5 acres and there must be 200 feet of road frontage.
The same lot density can be achieved by subtracting the size of the flexible lot from 2.5 acres and retaining the balance in open space.
The new section only applies to single-family homes and not to subdivisions. No more than four flexible lots are allowed on a property and a new flexible lot can be added only once every five years, meaning it would take about 15 to 20 years for a rural lot development to be completed.
A parcel owner can put all of the flexible lots on the parcel at once if all the lots will be owned by the property owner’s children.
Resident Matt Russell said he is looking to do this with his land. If Russell were to have his children live on the parcel using traditional lot development, each lot would have to be 2.5 acres, meaning some of the open space would be lost. He said he doesn’t want to “chunk up” his land.
Resident Lisa Turner said she would like to use rural flexible lot development for employee housing on her farm, saying traditional lot development would mean losing a lot of her farmland.
Planning Board Chairwoman Wendy Caisse said at the Town Council meeting that the rural flexible lot development section was created so residents wouldn’t have to break up their land into sections.
“What it really stems from is landowners in Freeport wanting to utilize their land to the highest value,” she said.
Town Planner Donna Larson said the new section applies to about 100 parcels, but residents who want to create flexible lots must still get approval from the town’s code enforcement officer.
In rural districts in Freeport, lots must be at least 2.5 acres under traditional lot development, left, but new rural flexible lot development, right, allows lots to be 22,000 square feet to one acre, which creates more open space.