2014-04-11 / Front Page

Standards still under review

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — The Comprehensive Plan Committee continued to review the changes to municipal ordinances regarding permitted and conditional uses in Downtown Business Districts 1 and 2 at its meeting Tuesday, April 1.

The planning board will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 10 to continue discussing the ordinance changes.

The Comprehensive Plan Committee and the planning board have been working to redefine the standards for these select municipal districts for the better part of a year.

Shifting the parameters of permitted and conditional uses in these districts began on the coattails of Arundel’s market analysis and branding study, organized and administered by The Chesapeake Group.

The town has long since re-examined ways in which to boost its economy while making its topographic layout more accommodating.

Downtown Business District 1 is adjacent to Downtown Business District 2 on Route 1, located just north of the intersection of Campground Road and Log Cabin Road. It 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 building patterns in DB-1,” according to a town document.

In July the planning board approved a list of 34 “permitted uses” for possible establishments on the properties. The permitted uses range from catering and food preparation, to marinas, artists and craftsman studios. Schools, restaurants, veterinary hospitals, museums, garden centers, churches and parish houses and contractor storage yards would also be allowed.

Town Planner Tad Redway told the planning board in July that the reason for making the districts more mixed use and introducing businesses into the district would allow for a sort of “backdoor to Kennebunkport.”

“We’re looking at how to introduce more uses without the district losing its character,” said Redway in July.

Diane Robbins, Comprehensive Plan Committee member, said, “While I can sympathize with the fact that some people would like to see more business, and I think it benefits everyone in town, part of our charge is not just weighing one particular interest.

“We’re supposed to take a look at the town. If we don’t get this passed because people will not pass it because of the no-residential use, then in my opinion we’ve shot ourselves in the foot and then we’ve lost another year and we’ve lost how many businesses that could have potentially done something within that year.”

Said Donna der Kinderen, “If the intent is to take DB2 and create a place where commercial development can occur, with the primary purpose of changing the tax base in town, then option 1 as you see here completely undermines that.”

“There’s not any one person in this room who owns any of that property. And here we sit making decisions about what they should and should not be able to do with their land. Now, on one hand that’s part of this job, but I think we need to tread very carefully and very respectfully considering we have heard from some of those people,” said der Kinderen.

The land rights aren’t just up to the landowner, however, said John Bell: “It goes both ways, though ... I don’t think it’s just the landowner’s rights, I think I, as a resident of Arundel, should have some say in this as well. I don’t want to allow Joe Blow to put in another subdivision if by doing that I’m going to see another 55 kids in school that we have to pay $6,000, $7,000 a year for, because I am going to be impacted by that.”

At the planning board’s special meeting on Thursday, April 3, Redway said. “The conversation focused on the issue of providing a residential safety valve for property owners to be able to develop some of their property on an as-needed basis for residential purposes.”

The groups are trying to work together to “provide incentive for commercial development,” Redway said.

“They essentially did in fact leave the same exceptions for incremental divisions and family divisions that allow people to develop a portion. On the flip side they also wanted to provide an incentive for people who use mixed-use developments.”

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