Council debates farm stand rules, zoning
Rockland — City Councilors continued to debate new zoning regulations for the area west of Old County Road Sept. 3, discussing at length what rules might apply to farm stands.
The council will hold a public hearing and final vote Monday, Sept. 9 on the proposed Rural Residential 2 Zone.
The council previously approved in first reading zoning rules for the area that would allow farm stands, riding stables, home occupations and bed and breakfasts. Since the last meeting, the city's Comprehensive Planning Commission has sent a memo to City Manager James Smith outlining changes it would like to see in the proposed zoning.
Among them, it would like to make farm stands a conditional use, meaning they would need planning board approval.
However, it was also said at the meeting that residents in the zone who grow their own produce on their property are allowed to sell it under state law. Any operation that involves buying produce somewhere off premises and then reselling it at a farm stand in this zone, however, would need planning board approval.
Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson argued this needed to be clarified before the new regulations are approved.
Councilor Larry Pritchett said the rules should be based on the size of the farm stand. There was some debate among councilors whether someone could operate a farm stand using mostly homegrown produce but selling a few products brought in from off site.
The council also discussed use of recreational vehicles including snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles in the zone. While home owners could still use these vehicles on their own property and could allow clubs or individuals to ride on their property and trails, the new zoning rules would prohibit any commercial, for-profit vehicle track.
The new zoning changes the minimum lot size from one to two acres. The commission has proposed amending that to include a grandfather clause allowing any existing smaller lots that were on record before the new zoning goes into affect.
Dickerson asked why auto repair was not allowed in the zone. Councilor Frank Isganitis noted it was not allowed under the previous zoning.
Dickerson questioned why someone could not fix a few cars in a barn on their property, while other trades such as carpentry or boatbuilding would be allowed on a small scale. Smith said allowing garages to operate in that area could change the landscape, making it more commercial over time.
During the meeting Sept. 3, Stephen Carroll of Rockland complained the city is not business friendly.
Carroll has been trying to get permission to run a farm stand, but has been having trouble because he is in a residential zone. He said he lives near the property on Maverick Street at the Old County Road intersection where another proposed food stand will likely be allowed because that is in a commercial zone. Meanwhile, he cannot run a farm stand right across the street, he said.
He complained he has already lost the chance to do business during this year's busy summer season.
Code Enforcement Officer John Root said if Carroll grew his own vegetables and fruit on his property, he could sell it, but he does not. He is looking to buy the produce and resell it there.
In other business, the council will discuss Sept. 9 whether to put a $586,000 salt and sand shed on the November ballot.
The city hopes to build a 9,100-square-foot salt and sand shed near the city transfer station off Pleasant Street. Smith said in previous comments the city loses sand and salt each year because it is stored outside and the city does not have a shed for its storage.
Also on the agenda for the Sept. 9 meeting is a closed-door meeting on land development.
Smith said it is an economic development matter and that can be discussed behind closed doors when public knowledge would put the city at a disadvantage in financial bargaining or negotiations. He would not disclose any more information about the project in question.
Courier Publications News Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast for 15 years.
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