Harpswell panel to unveil proposed shoreland zoning changes
HARPSWELL — A committee that has been working for several months to bring shoreland zoning ordinances into compliance with state law is now ready to educate those who may be affected.
Mary Ann Nahf, chairwoman of the Shoreland Zoning Task Force, said Tuesday her group will reach out to residents who will be affected by the proposed zoning changes in a series of December meetings.
"(The ordnance changes) will have to be passed at the Town Meeting," Nahf said. "So ideally we want to get education out there ahead of time so people don't learn about changes before it's too late. We need to be very proactive in making sure we explain how the shoreland zoning (changes) will affect them."
Nahf said the task force will hold a meeting for about 80 residents who will be affected by the proposed changes on Dec. 10 or 12. She said the date will be narrowed down next week, an residents will receive a letter via mail.
The task force will then hold a Dec. 18 public hearing on the proposed changes for the entire town, Nahf said. Both meetings will happen at Town Hall.
Nahf said the task force's mission was to make sure current shoreland zoning complies with state law, especially seeing that current resource protection designations are sufficient.
She said the group was also looking to change zoning for certain areas based on the predominant uses of land. These areas include parts of Mitchell Field, the Cundy's Harbor business area, Land's End and Mackerek Cove.
While some zones will change from residential to commercial fishing, others will change to business or resource protection zones. Nahf said the task force will clarify the implications of some of these changes in the meetings.
Nahf said for zones that are proposed to be changed to business or commercial, it won't have much of an impact for most residents, because homeowners are already allowed to run their own occupation on their property.
But, she said, the zoning shift to business or commercial will allow certain businesses to increase their operations. This means they can hire more employees and increase their facilities.
Nahf said the resource protection zones will help prevent use of chemical fertilizers and manure in those applicable areas. A few proposed resource protection zones include Mitchell Field, Lookout Point and Little Mark Island.
Nahf said James Cassida of Normandeau Associates was hired by the town to help the task force write the proposed ordinance changes. She said prior to joining Normandeau, Cassida worked for the state and helped write shoreland zoning ordinances for more than two decades.