Yarmouth formalizes June 2 for gun give-backs

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YARMOUTH — The Town Council on April 12 established a gun give-back day and approved amendments to the Character Based Development Code definitions of the Route 1 Corridor and Village Center.

Councilor Tim Shannon’s proposal for a voluntary gun give-back day was altered, but ultimately passed by a 6-1 vote.

The Police Department already has a program in place where unwanted firearms or ammunition can be brought in and safely destroyed without compensation.

Using that as a guidelines, the formal resolution designates June 2 as “Gun Give Back Day.”

Shannon said the proposal is basically an “awareness campaign” for the existing Police Department policy.

After meeting some resistance from councilors and residents during a workshop, Shannon eliminated a section of the resolve that had proposed residents who give back their guns or ammunition could be recognized by having the flags on the Memorial Green at Town Hall lowered to half-staff “in their honor or in recognition of a loved one or others killed by gun violence in America.”

Police Chief Mike Morrill said the give-back will take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on June 2, but for the rest of the month, the Police Department will continue to publicize the department’s existing program, asking residents to turn over unwanted firearms and ammunition by appointment.

Morrill estimated the program costs about $1,000 for advertising and overtime for the two officers who conduct the transfers.

“(Afterwards) we’ll do a better job of educating and letting people know that this program takes place every day of the year,” Morrill said.

Development code

The council unanimously approved amendments to Chapter 703 of the town’s zoning ordinance, which is intended to “facilitate the predictable contextually based planning and development of walkable mixed-use human-scaled places of character.”

The town’s original Character-Based Development Code, which sets standards for the appearance of buildings, was adopted in May 2013 and applied only to the Route 1 corridor.

Last July, the council asked the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee to continue work on the Village Center and the North Yarmouth Academy districts.

The Village Center consists of a medium-density area, centered along and abutting Main Street, that has a mix of building types and residential, retail, office and other commercial uses.

The Route 1 Corridor encapsulates the developed predominantly retail areas along Route 1 from Exit 15 to Exit 17. According to the code, “the intent of this District is for redevelopment in a form that will transition these areas into a more pedestrian accommodating environment with a human scaled development pattern.”

Finally, North Yarmouth Academy’s special district applies zoning to the campus.

Amendments to the code address who has “review authority” over zoning regulations. The Planning Board is authorized to process building and lot plans for “major development,” while the Planning Department is authorized to for “minor development.”  New structures less than 1,000 sf gross floor area shall be reviewed by the Planning Department.

In discussing the code, the council also added a demolition delay to Chapter 701 of the town zoning. The provision prohibits demolition of a building or structure that is 75 years or older and is partially or wholly situated in the town’s Demolition Delay Overlay Zone until the Planning Board determines its historic significance.

If the building is “of value,” alternatives to demolition, such as restoration, relocation or rehabilitation, must be explored.

The CPIC chairwoman, Lynne Seeley, thanked the council for adopting the code.

“It’s been a long journey,” she said. “… The draft code continues the town’s efforts to align its zoning with town policies adopted in the 2010 Comprehensive Plan … it’s designed to preserve Yarmouth’s beloved village character while also supporting a vibrant, mixed-use Village Center.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

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