Durham Question 1
Do you support proposed amendments to the Land Use Ordinance 2020?From the Town: In 1994, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection imposed a shoreland zoning ordinance and map on the Town of Durham for its failure to comply with Maine’s Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act. That ordinance and zoning map are at odds with the Durham Land Use Ordinance and Zoning Map. In December of 2019, Durham voters approved amendments to the Land Use Ordinance that adopted a new ordinance framework and format that used the DEP shoreland zoning guidelines to bring the Town into greater compliance with State law.At the same time, the Planning Board attempted to tailor the new shoreland zoning regulations to have the least impact on development rights of existing landowners. Upon conducting an informal review of the adopted regulations, DEP staff indicated that significant changes would be required in order to bring the Town into full compliance with the Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act.The changes now proposed will require the imposition of some Resource Protection zoning around five large-nonforested wetlands as shown on the draft Zoning Map. The Planning Board hired an environmental consultant who specializes in shoreland zoning to conduct research to establish which areas surrounding those “swamps” could have Limited Residential development and which areas must be Resource Protection. Affected landowners must be notified by mail of the proposed changes under Maine’s notice laws.Along with the requirement for additional Resource Protection zoning, the DEP also pointed out that the State’s Limited Residential classification does not allow commercial or industrial uses. Durham’s rural zoning allows home-based businesses and other commercial uses with approval by the Planning Board, but such uses cannot be allowed within 250 feet of those large wetlands.Finally, the Planning Board attempted to streamline the shoreland zoning regulations to only address the limited shoreland issues Durham actually deals with. Most areas affected by Mandatory Shoreland Zoning are already in the Town’s Resource Protection, but DEP staff indicated that all provisions contained in the State guidelines must be addressed to bring Durham into compliance with law. The Town Planner and environmental consultant have proposed amendments to bring the Town’s shoreland zoning regulations into full compliance. Upon adoption of the amendments, the new shoreland zoning regulations must undergo formal review by DEP before they can go into effect.
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