Magjik refers to ordinance opponents as 'priviliged posse'

Rockland zoning repeal effort stirs passions

By Stephen Betts | Feb 11, 2019
This is a postcard mailed to households in Rockland.

Rockland — The effort to repeal a controversial City Council-approved residential zoning overhaul is generating controversy itself.

Postcards warning about the possible impact of the changes to the ordinance were mailed to many homes in Rockland Friday, Feb. 8. A group calling itself Saving Rockland sent out the mailer, which includes a photo of a tiny house and an aerial photograph of a residential Rockland neighborhood.

"Tiny houses are coming to your neighborhood!," states the headline over the photo of the tiny house, and "Rockland's green spaces will disappear" over the aerial photo.

The mailer also maintains that the ordinance approved by the Rockland City Council  Jan. 14 will double the density of residential neighborhoods, harm the character of neighborhoods and decrease property values.

A group of 19 residents are collecting signatures to force a referendum to repeal the ordinance. The organizers said last week they were near their goal of enough signatures to require the referendum. The number needed to force a vote by the public is 523. If reached, the referendum would likely be held June 11.

Councilor Amelia Magjik, who was a strong supporter of the ordinance change, posted Saturday afternoon on Facebook that she was "accosted by a very rude member of the privileged posse who are causing a ruckus over ordinance amendment #48" while she was at the transfer station.

She said the ordinance allows people greater freedom to use their own property for living space and brings a relatively large percentage of existing properties into code compliance with setbacks and lot coverage regulations.

"I go to the transfer station to sort my recyclables and drop my trash, just like everyone else. I do not go there to be HARASSED. Manners are still free, I suggest everyone pick some up today," Magjik said in her post.

She said the person, whom she did not identify, was a fanatic who was telling people that the ordinance would allow the city to cut down trees on people's properties. She then posted laughing emojis.

"Please help stop the spread of hysteria. No one is coming to hand you a tiny house and/or cut down the trees in your yard," she concluded in her post.

A message was sent to Magjik Sunday asking for additional information on the incident, but she has not responded.

The new law will allow detached accessory apartments to a main house. The ordinance does not include a minimum size for residences.

Minimum lot sizes will decrease from 20,000 square feet to 7,500 square feet in residential AA zones such as Pen Bay Acres and Samoset Road; from 10,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet in residential A; and from 6,400 square feet to 4,000 square feet in residential B. Residential B is the most widespread residential zone in Rockland.

Minimum frontage along the street will drop to 50 feet for all of those residential zones. Minimum rear and side setbacks of buildings from neighboring property lines will also drop to 8 feet. Front setbacks from the road will be 10 feet in those zones.

Rockland Code Enforcement Officer John Root said there has been no analysis done on how many more homes could be built in the city under the new ordinance.

The City Council approved the ordinance despite the fact that opponents far outnumbered supporters who spoke during a public hearing last month.

Supporters say the ordinance will allow elderly residents to age in place by having in-law residences added to existing homes. They also maintain that the change will allow young people to stay in Rockland with the addition of affordable housing.

Comments (9)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | Feb 12, 2019 07:45

Adele,

Did you do your homework as well and research tiny houses?  The postcard is misleading advertisement and false advertising.   Not all tiny houses are built on wheels.  There are so many designs of tiny houses to fit anywhere in a neighborhood in Rockland.  The City government would have to approve the design before it was built.  Did you forget that?  How do you know if anyone wanted to build a tiny house near you wouldn’t ask for your input?



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 11, 2019 17:09

Ashamed that a hateful, demeaning postcard like this would be sent out in the city of Rockland; and then is tolerated makes it even worse. It is sad to see folks sink to this level. Comparing this need to Sunnyvale Trailer Park is bigoted; pure and simple.



Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Feb 11, 2019 13:18

When I was young, they were called trailers.  Maybe fancy sheds sounds better.  I'm not against the concept of "Tiny homes" but they should be zoned like a trailer home...let's face it - that's what they are!  If I wanted to live in Sunnyvale Trailer Park, I'd move there!



Posted by: Adele Grossman Faber | Feb 11, 2019 11:16

George, The first line of Rockland's Comprehensive Planning Commission memorandum dated December 27, 2018, re Ordinance Amendment #48 states: "The Comprehensive Planning Commission recommends postponing the vote on Ordinance Amendment #48."   The Memorandum  is a page and a half with specific quotes from the Plan. Worth reading. Thanks.




Posted by: Nina Reed | Feb 11, 2019 11:12

the city council should not make decisions for the residents. if they want tiny houses, let them build on their property. patricia williams



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 11, 2019 10:44

ENOUGH ALREADY!! Rockland has a council that is treating each other respectfully and coming to agreements that may not please everyone, yet are in the best interests of the diverse community that we have become.  Want to "save Rockland"?   Be a bit quicker to empathize than to criticize.  City Councilors: Thank you for showing us how to live in the solution instead of exacerbating the problem.



Posted by: Tyler Southard | Feb 11, 2019 10:26

The group collecting these signatures is not a reflection of the diverse community that Rockland is and should not be representing themselves as an entity that has power to 'save Rockland'. They are only trying to fight needed change and progress to preserve a way of life they have become accustom to in their old age.



Posted by: Stephen Betts | Feb 11, 2019 09:43

The Comprehensive Planning Commission was not able to reach a consensus on whether the ordinance was in line with the city's comprehensive plan, according to committee Chair Julie Lewis.

The Comprehensive Planning Commission offered suggestions to the City Council to consider a more targeted area for the first change; focus on areas east of Old County Road; collect data to characterize the housing crisis to determine who needs housing, how much, and what are the drivers; explicitly address change of use of nonconforming structures; and analyze setbacks in sample areas to understand how these changes align with existing neighborhoods.



Posted by: George Terrien | Feb 11, 2019 09:01

What did Rockland's Comprehensive Planning Commission think of the ordinance when it was proposed?  Did the draft conform with the current plan?



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