Proposed storage container regulations questioned
Camden — Storage container regulations and an amendment to adjust River-Business District zoning were presented to Camden Select Board members Aug. 20.
Of the two, storage container regulations drew more reaction, with Selectman Leonard Lookner describing the proposed regulations as having "more holes than a hobo's underwear."
He decried the proposal, citing last year's voter approval of a zoning change allowing non-conforming businesses in the B-1, B-2 or B-4 development zones to a one-time, up to 30 percent, expansion.
Lookner said part of the reason the previous zoning change was suggested was to rid the town of large storage containers currently located at some of the half-dozen properties impacted by that change. Storage containers addressed in the new proposal include large dumpsters, train cars and former tractor trailer boxes converted for storage. He suggested existing storage containers on certain properties, some of which no longer have wheels, are illegal.
"I don't think those storage containers are a violation," Selectman Don White countered. "This isn't illegal, whether you think so or not."
Selectman John French noted an existing ordinance requires storage containers to be registered vehicles, though a number of existing containers were referred to as having steps built up to them.
"I was under the impression we were going to do away with these trailers," French said.
The proposal, according to Planning Board Chairman Chris MacLean, would limit new storage containers to 60 days per year per property and would require securing a permit 15 days in advance of the container's placement. He noted any storage containers in place before the zoning change is enacted would be grandfathered and not subject to the new rules.
"There are lots of legit uses for them on a short-term basis," he said.
Following discussions, Lookner proposed tabling the issue and sending it back to the planning board to refine; his motion did not receive a second, rendering it failed. French noted the select board still can decide to return the issue to the planning board after a public hearing.
"I still have a lot of questions, but I'll let it go for now," he said.
A 3-2 vote approved setting a public hearing for Tuesday, Sept. 3. Lookner and Selectman Jim Heard were opposed.
Another zoning change presented would allow property owners in the River-Business District a little more flexibility, MacLean said. Currently, property owners in that district are required to have commercial space on the first floor and two-family or multi-family housing of equal square footage on the second floor. MacLean said one property within that zone has yet to be developed due to the restrictions in place. The proposed "slight liberalization" of the ordinance would retain the 50/50 ratio of commercial and residential use, but allow residential use on the first floor or in a separate building on the same property, MacLean said.
Selectmen agreed to host a public hearing on the zoning change Sept. 3.
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.
Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and two chickens.