Opinion: Sabbathday Shores site plan changes should not be approved

New Gloucester resident John Salisbury writes:

On Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at 7 p.m. the New Gloucester Planning Board will consider a request from Sabbathday Shores developer Allen Hamilton to change its approved subdivision plan.  The plan was originally approved as an “Open Space Subdivision” under the Town zoning ordinance.  An “Open Space Subdivision” as defined in the zoning ordinance is one where “… the principal purposes of conserving portions of the open space is the protection of natural resources such as wetlands, aquifers, steep slopes, wildlife and plant habitats, and stream corridors, open space uses in those portions may be limited to those which are no more intensive than passive recreation.” (underlined word provides emphasis).

The developer is seeking is to change the “Open Space” classification to permit “active recreation” uses.  This change in use would allow the developer to subsequently seek a permit to install one or more docks and slips for each of the eight home lots in the subdivision.

A number of New Gloucester residents will be requesting the Planning Board hold a public hearing on the proposed change in the Sabbathday Shores site plan.  They are opposed to the request to change the “Open Space” zoning classification.

John Salisbury, a New Gloucester resident and the author of this opinion piece, argues that the zoning ordinance does not permit “active recreation” under the Open Space provisions under which the original site plan was approved.  The only provision in the zoning ordinance which permits “active recreation” uses is where “… significant portions of land are suited to agricultural production.”  This suggests that the Planning Board has no option but to disapprove the applicant’s request.  The Sabbathday Shores property is not suited for agricultural production.

The Zoning Ordinance specifically provides that … “When the principal purposes of conserving portions of the open space is the protection of natural resources such as wetlands, aquifers, steep slopes, wildlife and plant habitats, and stream corridors, open space uses in those portions may be limited to those which are no more intensive than passive recreation.”

There are other reasons for not approving the requested site plan change to active recreation.  Among them are:

  1. There are two inlets (streams) that run across this waterfront into the lake. One is on the left side of the property which across the road the developer initially clear cut and made replanted vegetation that will take a number of years to return to an acceptable condition.  The second, larger stream is on the west end of the property.  Both of these streams are important to the fish life in the lake.
  2. There has been substantial erosion adjacent on the property and adjoining Rt. 26a right of way. While rip rap has been previously provided by the Town there continues to be erosion in the area.

New Gloucester residents are encouraged to share comments they may have on the requested Sabbathday Shores site plan amendment.  Written comments can be submitted to Town Planner Scott Hastings shastings@newgloucester.com.

John Salisbury
417B Sabbathday Road
New Gloucester, Maine

 

 

 

 

 

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