Owls Head Planning Board moves lighthouse project to next step

By George Chappell | Jan 10, 2013
Photo by: George Chappell Owls Head Planning Board on Jan. 9 approves changes in zoning and shoreland zoning ordinances to make way for use of Coast Guard lighthouse keeper's house for the American Lighthouse Foundation.

Owls Head — Nearly a dozen residents showed up for a public hearing Jan. 9 to support the American Lighthouse Foundation's quest for a quasi-public museum at Owls Head Light.

Several members of the American Lighthouse Foundation were on hand to witness the historic 4-0 vote allowing the keeper's house to become an office, gift shop and interpretative center, or museum.

The group plans to lease the keeper's house next to the Owls Head Light from the U.S. Coast Guard for five years and make it the national headquarters for the foundation, which currently has an office in Rockland. The Coast Guard will still own the property.

For the move to take place, the town had to approve changes in the local shoreland zoning ordinance and the zoning ordinance, said Code Enforcement Officer Scott Bickford.

"The American Lighthouse Foundation would be responsible for the upkeep of the building and for the plowing of the road in, and the utilities" Robert Trapani, executive director of the foundation had said at a previous planning board meeting.

The next step will be to forward to the selectmen on Jan. 22 for their approval and to the voters at a special town meeting.

Bickford said the state's Department of Economic and Community Development would also have to approve the changes. He said he had already sent the state a copy of the proposed changes in the ordinances.

Officials said the Foundation could plan to move to its new site by March, if all else goes well.

Specific changes in the ordinances include adding a footnote citing, "museum, offices, and its supporting operational spaces as defined under the definition of Public Facility," and another reading, "Including museum and its supporting operational spaces as defined under the definition of Public Facility," in the shoreland zoning ordinance.

There were two changes to the zoning ordinance. One was under the land uses chart adding a footnote referring to allowing an exception for church and quasi-public facility. Another footnote used the term "quasi-public facility" after the word "museum" and "its supporting operational spaces."

Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401. ext. 117, or gchappell@courierpublicationsllc.com.


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