2018-01-05 / Front Page

Special town meeting set for Jan. 8

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — With Arundel’s annual town meeting still six months away, selectmen have called for a special session to answer the call of a citizens’ petition for a vote on new doggie day care rules.

The warrant for the special town meeting — to take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 8, at the Mildred L. Day Elementary School — also gives selectmen a chance to seek voter approval on three zoning tweaks, one of which indirectly impacts the sale of marijuana in town.

Selectmen accepted the pet daycare petition at their Nov. 13 meeting. According to Town Clerk Simone Boissonneault, the 200 signatures submitted by Limerick Road Kristin Woodward met the minimum threshold required to force town action by two names.

Woodward circulated her petition following a Sept. 14 pre-application meeting with the planning board, at which she hoped to gain final approval for a pet day care center, to be called Rontu’s Run Dog Daycare, next to her existing riding stable at 496 Limerick Road.

At the Oct. 23 meeting of the board of selectmen, Woodward claimed the process of licensing her new project had been continually stymied by the planning board.

“I’ve been trying to get this going now for a year and a half,” she said. “I have been trying to comply with the planning board and they just keep throwing more and more at me, a lot of which seems to be unreasonable. I just feel like they are asking a lot of something that should be real simple.”

Woodward — who was made to re-do her driveway, among other reported planning board mandates — said she circulated her petition to eliminate the final insurmountable “roadblocks” to her new business venture.

“I just really feel like I’ve been banging my head against the wall,” she said. “Every time I go before the [planning] board, it’s ‘okay, now you have to do this.’ I do that and then it’s, ‘now you have to do this.’ It’s just been ongoing. I’d like to be able to start, but it just feels like it’s never going to happen unless something changes.”

Town Manager Keith Trefethen said at that time that a petition for a special town meeting was the most viable route to amending the town rules the planning board is currently using as its basis to deny Woodward’s project.

Trefethen added that Woodward was “absolutely correct” in her assertion that the planning board often piecemeals its requirements, instead of laying out at the outset all that needs to be done for approval.

“We’ve had this conversation before,” he said. “What I’ve noticed in speaking to Kris [Woodward], as well as to others, is that when they go in, all of a sudden something else gets brought up, and then they feel frustrated about the process they are under.

“We need for people to be told what they need up front so the process goes quicker,” Trefethen said. “I will continue to work on that.”

Among changes to the town’s list of conditional uses in its residential districts, the proposal would:

 Amend a requirement that a facility providing dog day care have at least one full-time staffer who is a “certified pet dog trainer,” to instead require that he or she be a “certified animal trainer,” and eliminated a mandate that this person be a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers,

 Eliminate a requirement that the outdoor portion of a dog daycare facility be set back 50 feet from any property line and specify that the required 8-foot fence may be just 6 feet tall, if make of chain link known as “coyote rollers,”

 Amend the requirement that the fence around outdoor play areas adjacent to neighboring residential homes be “solid and opaque,” to say they “shall have privacy screening such as semi-opaque mesh or like,” and,

 Change the rule that dog waste must be cleaned on a daily basis and placed in “airtight containers,” to say those containers shall be “state approved,” whether airtight or not, and that required disposal via commercial trash contracts may be replaced with “state approved and inspected composting on site.”

Finally, the proposal also says “town rules and regulations shall follow closely with those of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Animal Welfare Program and certification rules for dog day care in Maine, and owners/operators must show proof of a satisfactory state inspection.”

Zoning changes

The three proposed changes to Arundel’s land use ordinance will impact marijuana sales, application fees, and rules for landscaping and “buffering.”

The first proposed change clarifies that any land use not specifically identified as permissible, shall be prohibited. In other words, a use is not longer considered OK just because the town has not thought to create rules regulating it. If the use is not mentioned, either as an activity automatically permitted within a zoning district, or as a conditional use requiring planning board approval, than it is a no-go.

The proposal change singles out retail marijuana functions, legalized by a statewide vote in November 2016, for notice that those activities are not allowed unless on the list of what is allowed within a certain area.

The fee change eliminates mention of planning board application fees ranging from $50 to $500, as cited in eight different sections of the land use ordinance. Instead, the proposed amendment substitutes language stating that the various costs will be set by selectmen in the fee schedule the set annually.

The change allows selectmen to amend the fees from time to time in the future without having to call for a special town meeting to approve the change.

The proposal also specifies that in addition to the permit fees set by selectmen, applicants for subdivision review must bear the cost of any professional peer reviews required by the planning board in order to properly vet the project.

The new landscaping rules would eliminate the previous regulations and replace them with three pages of new language, applicable to all projects requiring planning board review, other than single-family residential projects, agricultural uses, municipal activities, and small “home occupation” businesses.

The new rules are designed to “visually blend the proposed project into the vegetative and topographic character of the surrounding area or neighborhood.”

Among the requirements are mandates to always preserve, wherever possible, stands of mature trees and to use plants selected for cold-weather hardiness from a planting list submitted along with a landscape plan.

The new rules also require that screening at boundary lines, whether made of fencing, vegetation, or earthen perm, should shield between 25 and 74 percent of the new project from view, while buffering required to specifically obstruct view of a new activity from neighbors must achieve shielding of between 75 and 100 percent.

The full proposal, available for view on the town website, www.arundelmaine.org, also sets rules for landscaping parking lots — including a rule that a “curbed, planted island” be installed at the end of every parking row and at every 120 feet along a row of cars. Standards are also set for the type, planting size and distance, and mature height of trees the planning board calls on to be placed along streets.

Staff Writer Wm. Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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