Tiny turnout backs site plan regulations

TREMONT — Just 10 voters, less than one tenth of a percent of those registered to vote, including four Planning Board members, attended a special town meeting Monday. Changes in the zoning and floodplain ordinances were approved in less than 30 minutes.

The Planning Board previously recommended that the three articles on the warrant get approval. All three carried with little discussion and no opposition expressed during voice votes.

One of the articles, which asked voters if they wish to adopt a site plan review process for large-scale developments, is completely new to the ordinance.

In response to a question about site plan review, Planning Board Chairman Mike Ryan said the need for the review process came from seeing large-scale development in Bar Harbor and realizing that Tremont was unprepared for projects that could strain the infrastructure of the town and its natural resources.

“We thought we were sitting ducks,” he said.

The zoning ordinance basically is geared toward “mom-and-pop” businesses, Ryan said.

The site plan review process is designed to ensure that any large development proceeds responsibly. The developer would bear the burden financially when making a case for Planning Board approval, Ryan said.

“For example, if they come in with an army of lawyers, we’ll hire an army of lawyers, and they’ll pay for it,” he said.

Voters approved another article that updated the existing zoning ordinance. Along with a new numbering system, some rewording has been done to eliminate confusion, and a section with new state shoreland zoning requirements was added. Shoreland zoning was covered in various sections of the ordinance. Putting the information into a separate section makes the ordinance less “unwieldy” for users, Ryan said.

The floodplain ordinance adopted Monday incorporates new state requirements and floodplain maps, Ryan said. If voters turn the article down, the state would then take over enforcement from the town, Ryan explained. The Planning Board prefers to enforce the ordinance because “the state doesn’t know local issues,” Ryan said.

Former resident Frank Gray moderated the meeting.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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