2018-02-16 / Front Page

Ordinance updates on tap

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — When Kennebunkport residents gather for their annual town meeting in June they’ll be faced with a series of at least six ordinance updates put forward for their approval.

All are fairly boilerplate, however, described by Town Manager Laurie Smith during a first look with selectmen Feb. 8 as “housecleaning” measures.

The six proposals are currently before the relevant town boards and committees, and will be the subject of a public hearing at the Feb. 22 selectboard meeting.

Any suggested changes spilling out of that meeting, as well as any language edits suggested by the town attorney are expected to be ready in time for a first reading before the board March 8. Following a final presentation on each proposal at the March 22 board meeting, selectmen are slated to finalize and sign the annual town meeting warrant at their April 12 session.

Street ordinance

Spinning out of ongoing efforts to update house numbers in town, starting along Kings Highway, the town’s street ordinance is having some text deleted and other passages added for “updating and clarity,” Smith said.

Primarily, these changes reinforce that all public and private streets with two or more homes must be named, with no two names being similar enough to create potential confusion among emergency responders, i.e. no Beach Lane if there is already a Beach Road. The changes also clarify the requirements for posting house numbers that EMS personnel can spot easily.

Administrative code

With the recent death of Allan Moir creating vacancies at the top of both the fire department and the wastewater department, Smith said now is a good time to review the town’s organizational structure, especially in light of the fact that she has 10 department heads reporting to her, creating a what she termed a sort of “spinning plate” frenzy of governing.

The need for review and potential change is also timely, she said, given the average age of town employees and an expectation that 12 out of 47 full-time staffers for the town are expected to retire within the next five years.

“I have been looking internally at ways in which we can better respond to the needs of our residents as well as be more flexible and adaptable in the future,” she said.

As the first step in a restructuring process, Smith is proposing that the wastewater management be folded into the public works department, with current director Michael Claus now responsible for both services. To help in that expanded oversight, public works would be augmented with a new deputy director.

Cape Porpoise Pier

Currently, Lee McCurdy wears two “very different hats” as manager of the Cape Porpoise Pier and harbormaster of that ocean outlet. However, in both aspects, McCurdy reports to the town manager. Instead, Smith is proposing to place McCurdy under the purview of the police chief, as harbormasters are in most towns, and as is even the case elsewhere in Kennebunkport, with Harbormaster Jim Black, who operates out of Government Wharf on the Kennebunk River.

Growth area map

The the town created its growth area map in 2010, stipulating that allowed building permits issued each year should be divvied out with 50 percent going to areas targeted for high growth, 20 percent for more rural parts of town and 30 percent for the transitional districts in between. But what the town neglected to consider, Town Planner Werner Gilliam said, is that expansion of infrastructure, such as the laying of new sewer lines, would, over time, necessarily change what is considered to be “rural.”

The proposed change simply creates a process for updating the growth management map over time.

“This doesn’t change the number of growth permits, it just changes the properties from time to time, so they are treated with other like properties,” Gilliam said.

Road setbacks

Local ordinances are full of “confusing and contradictory language” regarding road setbacks, Gilliam said. This proposal simply clarifies that for purposes of determining road setback requirements for construction, the line of demarcation shall start at the edge of the town’s legal right of way, regardless of where the actual edge of the road, as constructed, actually lies.

Parking standards

This is an elimination of language in order to better comply with state standards, which no longer allow a credit for impervious surfaces in the shoreland zone when using certain permeable surfaces, such as certain types of paving blocks that allow fluids to seep through into the ground, instead of running off to the nearest low point as they do with pavement.

“What was found after a number of years was that some communities were not consistency enforcing what DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] intent was, along with a realization that some contractors were not installing this material properly,” Gilliam said.

With the credit no longer allowed on the state level that once gave permission for larger paved areas than otherwise permitted, similar language should be cut from the local codes, Gilliam said.

Floodplain fees

This simply eliminates the $50 fee for a permit to build in a floodplain, and places that charge in the table of fees maintained by selectmen as a matter of policy. That allows the board to update the fees from time to time as it sees fit, without having to go to a town meeting vote each time.

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

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