2013-10-04 / Front Page

Board approves business corridor

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — After a three-hour-long discussion about ordinances within Downtown Business District 2 (DB2), a motion was passed unanimously to build a corridor, or road, on the south side of Route 1.

“When that’s completed,” said board member John der Kinderen, “we invite the land owners to discuss the possibilities (of another road).”

Downtown Business District 2 is located behind Downtown Business District 1 on Route 1, and is designed “to encourage more intensive commercial and institutional uses that would otherwise be incompatible with the scale of business mix of the DB-1 district.

Site and building design is intended to be complementary to and building pat- terns in DB-1,” according to the document handed out at the meeting.

The board also voted to eliminate section 14.6 the “Special Exceptions” portion of the regulations in regards to zoning ordinances in Arundel’s two downtown business districts.

This discussion comes in the wake of other, similar discussions about the development of both of Arundel’s Downtown Business districts.

A microcosm of The Chesapeake Group’s market and branding study — to capitalize on Arundel’s economic and physical assets in all areas ranging from natural resources to local businesses — the goal of both business districts is to maximize the “functionality of available land,” according to the document.

The intention is to transform Arundel into a more physically and financially hospitable place to live, visit, and operate a business.

In the past year, Arundel has reexamined ways in which to boost its economy while making its topographic layout more accommodating.

A shared worry among board members at the meeting, however, is the threat of having too few regulations — the town is fervently trying to capitalize on its assets, which means actively attracting businesses to both downtown business districts. The hot topic among board members — is too few regulations a bad thing?

“It just goes back to — we’re all excited about laying on regulation after regulation and it’s wonderful because we feel we’re doing a good thing,” said der Kinderen, “But at the same time, we say, ‘Well if you’re doing a good project that we like, these regulations don’t apply to you.’ ”

“Either you have regulations or you don’t,” said der Kinderen. “So if you want to attract businesses then get rid of (regulations), but if you don’t want to attract businesses then put the regulations in, but don’t say, ‘Well if we like you, you can come in,’” said der Kinderen.

Said board member Richard Ganong, “No disrespect, John, but if we follow your theory and don’t have zoning laws, then we don’t have them, and we’re not going to restrict anybody from doing anything.

“Which means my next door neighbor could have a nuclear waste facility because it’s allowed.”

“It’s a rather extreme example, but he could do whatever he wanted to the detriment of my property without zoning laws,” Ganong said.

Town Manager Tad Redway capped what became the majority position. “If the board is not favorable to do it (allow special exceptions) in one district, then the board shouldn’t have them in any district.”

“I’m not saying dismiss all regulations,” der Kinderen said. “But we have so many that are trying to find loopholes for businesses we like. You should either have them or not have them, but don’t say we should have them with special exception.”

Discussion then shifted to the possible construction of a mandated road system and/or a sewer system in Downtown Business District 2.

“There’s not a lot of potential for any road system,” said Town Planner Tad Redway. “And any road is going to have to be internal and come out Route 1.”

“The question,” said Redway, “is whether to develop a lateral road to Route 1 and if it’s going to increase the potential for business dramatically.”

Redway then reminded the board members of their objective and said, “You guys were the ones who said, ‘Hey, let’s start getting a little more aggressive about our economic development plan. Let’s start to increase commercial valuation. And you’re looking for a more aggressive approach to it.

“Now, if you’re going to do that you have to zone land specifically for commercial purposes and attract it,” he said.

“I don’t think the town can afford to do a road and sewer. I think it needs to be like I’ve been preaching for a long time — live and let live,” said resident Bentley Warren.

“Everybody’s making their property look better and that’s what’s going to sell more properties. And what John said: if we put too many restrictions on people coming in to buy and build, they’re not going to come in. And if you put a road in, that’s going to cost probably $1,000 a foot plus the property, They’re going to say heck, I’m going to Biddeford, I’m going to Kennebunk, I’m going to New Hampshire, or somewhere that they can afford it,” Warren said.

“We’re going to make ourselves an unaffordable place to sell any lots to industrial buildings. I don’t think we can hope and anticipate people are going to come in — it’s too much of a gamble.”

Ganong then expressed the opinion that eventually became the majority, “We want to have a common entrance together. Even if we encourage them to use the common road we are going to have to bite the bullet and do that.

“I don’t see that happening unless we want to step up to the plate. We have to buy the land from the corridors and it’s going to be expensive, anyway.”

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