Rockland Council to continue review of house lot sizes

By Stephen Betts | Aug 13, 2019
Source: File photo

Rockland — Rockland has scheduled a meeting with about 24 hours' notice to continue discussing the hot-button issue of residential zoning.

The City Council is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at City Hall with its contracted planner to discuss lot sizes and setbacks.

The city entered into a contract July 10 with Sebago Technics of South Portland for $14,500 to help with planning of setbacks, house sizes and lot sizes. The council met July 16  with Sebago community planner Donna Larsen to begin the discussions.

The contract with Sebago calls for the firm to look at how many houses conform to current lot sizes and setbacks and develop options for allowing more homes to be built. The company is also asked to analyze the affordability of housing in Rockland and recommend options for the city to have more homes at a variety of prices.

The City Council had approved an overhaul of residential zoning regulations at its Jan. 14 meeting, despite strong opposition from some residents, including several former mayors. Faced with a court appeal by a resident and a petition drive that would have placed a referendum before voters to repeal the law and prohibit it from being brought forth again for five years, the council repealed the ordinance change on its own April 1.

The city decided to contract with a consulting firm rather than wait for the hiring of a full-time staff planner. The City Council approved a 2019-2020 municipal budget that adds the full-time staff planner, but to save money will not fill the post until January.

Comments (9)
Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Aug 15, 2019 22:49

The council meeting last night had a small turnout due to insufficient notice to the public by the council. The meeting, nevertheless, had interesting and vital lot size, setback, housing information presented by the Sebago group, the council hired, and about which Rockland residents and property owners should be following, if only they were informed by the city.

The council was requested to hold a future, well advertised, large gathering for the purpose of informing residents what is going on and how their neighborhoods could be significantly impacted. No response from the council. If residents don't get involved in this vital issue that could effect where they live, they'll wake up one day and wonder what happened while they slept.

Posted by: George Terrien | Aug 15, 2019 20:08

Thank you, Gerald.  You have more patience than do I.  Keep at it, please.  I am tired.

Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Aug 15, 2019 17:45

Again I will ask - is there a market for an 800 square foot house that costs $100,000 to build, which doesn't include other costs like the land, utility hookups, landscaping, etc.? This, while Rockland really needs is new, market rate apartments.


Walk down your block and look how many buildings, originally single family homes, have been converted to de facto apartment buildings (it's easy - just count the number of electric meters on the outside). Like what happened in Camden, some or many of these buildings will be purchased and "unconverted" back to single family homes. My own house had been unconverted from a over-under duplex by a previous owner.


These "unconversions" will mean folks will need a new place to rent, exacerbating the already high demand for rentals. Instead of focusing on tiny houses, the Council ought to be focusing on how to encourage the construction of apartment buildings, preferably designed for a walk-able urban environment with retail or other commercial uses on the 1st Floor.


Those that know me know what is coming: it is time for the Council to take up and adopt the Neighborhood Business Zone. As the chair of the Comprehensive Planning Commission at the time of its drafting, I am more than ready to meet with the Council to walk them through it.

And while I have their ear: has the Council adopted the Tillson Avenue/Waterfront Redevelopment Plan yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Here it is:

Posted by: Adele Grossman Faber | Aug 14, 2019 22:17


Confused?!?  Notice of the meeting was sent out after City Hall closed at 4:34PM on Tuesday the 13th, for this meeting which was called for the next day, Wednesday, the 14th, to start at 5:30PM. Also the day before this meeting (again, Tuesday the 13th), the City web site calendar listed Short Term Rental as the meeting for Wednesday the 14th, with no mention of a Lot Size and Set Backs Meeting. Those are the facts.

Posted by: Valli Genevieve Geiger | Aug 14, 2019 14:11

I am confused by the mention in this article of 24 hour notice. I have had this meeting in my calendar for weeks and I thought the next date was set at the previous Housing meeting or within days after it. We also announced it at the City Council meeting on Monday night and stated publically at the initial meeting with the City Planner that we would have a second meeting.

Valli Geiger

Rockland City Councilor

Posted by: T A Schwab | Aug 14, 2019 11:53

See you tonight, I approve of changing the zoning and want to hear more. Thank you for your service to our city.

Posted by: James York | Aug 14, 2019 09:06

Now this something that council should be working on-  the lack of new residential construction in the city- while in supposedly a boom economy- is troubling.

Posted by: George Terrien | Aug 14, 2019 09:05

Wo says we need to restore the train to Rockland?  We've got a railroad, and once again, no one on the Council to my knowledge has answered the question many have asked:  "What's the rush?"  Surely the meeting tonight did not need to be scheduled on an expedited basis "with about 24-hours notice", unless the intention was to block public consideration.

If so, for shame!

Council, we have a revised Comprehensive Plan well along.  Surely, rational people, including self-proclaimed experts in sustainability, must understand the significance of the zoning changes being proposed.  These being considered are NOT minor adjustments to correct inconvenience or unforeseen awkwardness.  They WILL allow GREAT change to the fabric of our community.

Please, Council, provide the opportunity for goo, comprehensive planning to perform its function, and to integrate multiple considerations, including the provision of affordable housing, and desist this bee-in-a-bonnet discard of thoughtful examination and public review.

Repealing the precipitous January 14th approval of rushed-through zoning changes to block a referendum that would have quieted premature reconsideration seems confirmed to what it appeared to many at the time:  government, OUR government, blocking thoughtful citizen input.  This action here at home begins to seem like Hong Kong--withdrawing a proposed action with the intention to take it up later in hopes of sneaking it through, rather than setting it aside for proper review.

Slow down, make sense--and save money by not burning consultant fees out of productive order, please!

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 14, 2019 07:58

The City council continues to operate with a mine field of it's own design.  There is a rather strong  oposition to the changes the council is proposing and instead of meeting with this group to work out their differences they continue to push forward.  By hiring this planning firm at a cost to taxpayers of over $14,000 and by scheduling impromptu meetings they are inflaming the issue.  Wake up council and smell the coffee.  It's only a matter of time before the angry dog takes another swipe at your ankle.

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