SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Voters on Tuesday gave the nod 305-247 to a land use ordinance amendment that proponents claim will spur the development of affordable housing.
Interim Town Manager Marilyn Lowell said 571 of the town’s 1,585 registered voters cast ballots, a 36 percent turnout (see related story).
The amendments apply to Zone B, which is outside the densely developed downtown area yet includes most of the town. According to the ordinance, properties within the zone either have access to public water and sewer lines or can easily be connected to these utilities. The zone has a mixed use, with commercial, industrial and residential properties.
One of the two changes approved by voters allows 40 percent lot coverage for commercial uses. The term “commercial use” includes multi-family structures with more than three dwelling units and seasonal cottages in common ownership that are occupied for less than six months a year. The amendment does not apply to condominiums and condominium associations. All current performance standards apply.
Lot coverage in the zone under the ordinance had been between 10 percent and 20 percent, depending on what provisions are in place for supplying water and disposing of sewage.
The other amendment increases the powers of the code enforcement officer, giving him or her the authority to approve additions of up to 1,000 square feet in size for commercial purposes. Until now, these additions had to be approved by the Planning Board. The aim is to streamline the process for these small-scale projects.