New rules on farm animals, river protection, home businesses advance in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — Proposed changes to the zoning ordinance to allow farm animals, gardens and farm stands in residential area are moving forward after a Town Council public hearing April 21. 

Planning Director Dan Bacon explained the changes proposed by the Maine Department of Agriculture, which asked the town to follow the state’s requirements for food processing. Bacon also said the Planning Board suggested the council consider allowing large and small farm animals in all residential zones, rather than just rural zones, as along as the properties meet size requirements.

“Adopting this ordinance will go a long way toward supporting local agriculture in Scarborough,” said Pam Anderson, who runs Deep Roots Farm, a small organic farm on Broadturn Road with her partner, Judy Bullard.

The council will vote on the ordinance changes at its May 5 meeting.

The Council also held a public hearing on proposed changes to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance that would make the area around the Nonesuch River west of the turnpike a Stream Protection 2 District. The changes would increase the setback requirement from 75 feet to 250 feet, although it would maintain the 75-foot setback requirement for current dwellings.

This change would align the ordinance with Scarborough’s Comprehensive Plan, which calls for more protection for the Nonesuch River.

“There’s already a 75-foot buffer. I don’t see any great need to increase it to 250 feet,” said David Green, a Scarborough resident.

Green and several councilors requested clarification on whether the setback takes into account the steep vertical pitch of the stream bed in some areas. Bacon said he was uncertain about whether that was considered in the measurement, but said he would find out and report back before the council votes on the measure at the May 5 meeting.

The council also held a hearing on proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance regarding the section on definitions for home occupations.

“The intent is to allow for a modest amount of retail sales out of homes,” Bacon said.

This change would allow bakers to sell pies, craft-makers to sell homemade crafts, and fishermen to sell their catch out of their homes. It would also specifically allow fishermen who sell lobsters out of their home to store lobster traps outside.

Currently, the ordinance allows lobstermen who are not selling out of their homes to store traps wherever they would like. However, lobstermen who are selling out of their homes are not allowed to store traps outdoors.

“We’re trying to clarify that,” Bacon said.

A resident expressed concern that the proposed ordinance would only allow up to 100 square feet of space for the home businesses and compared selling lobsters to selling produce at farm stands, which previous ordinance amendments would allow for up to 400 square feet.

Several councilors agreed with the proposal to increase the size restriction to match the farm stand measurements. 

Under the proposed ordinance, residents planning to sell items out of their homes would have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals to obtain permits. The ordinance would not allow motor vehicle repair shops in homes. Bacon explained that this was due to the obvious challenges of running repair shops without storing some items outside on the property.

“I would not like to see vehicle repair shops in residential zones. I think that crosses the line,” Councilor Michael Wood said.

In other business, the Council voted 5-2, with Councilors Carol Rancourt and Karen D’Andrea opposed, to refer a fifth amendment to the contract zoning agreement for The Gateway at Scarborough, the Cabela’s plaza, to the Planning Board.

The amendment requests that the town allow two new restaurants with drive-throughs at the plaza, as well as several new signs and banners. It also requests that the town allow farmers markets and craft fairs on the property.

The Planning Board will review the changes at its meeting on May 17 and the changes will return to the council for a vote in June.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or