Casco shoreland maps need better markings

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer
CASCO — Things can get a little murky for property owners or perspective buyers, when they cannot tell on a map what is marked as streamland and what is deemed as wetland.
After all, rules are different for land that is categorized as wetland versus what falls into the definition of streamland, especially when it comes to building any type of structure within approximately 100 feet of those zones.
The existing Shoreland Zone map makes it hard for laymen to tell which protected zone is which.
Using the current Shoreland Zone map of Casco, it is a difficult task even for engineers, building contractors, and members of the code enforcement department to decipher which type of protected eco-system they are looking at.
According to Casco Town Planner Jim Seymour it’s a minor problem with the maps that needs to be corrected.
“Both items are on one map making it difficult to comprehend and read as they are shown in similar markings but have different zoning regulations,” he said.
The Casco Planning Board will be “looking at cleaning up the Shoreland Zone map and clarifying the differences between the Stream and Wetland overlay districts,” Seymour said.
In the coming months, the board will review ways to make the map more straightforward. The time frame objective is to produce an easier-to-read map about a month prior to Town Meeting. That timeline will give residents time to read about the changes before the proposed ordinance amendment goes to a vote.
In a town where residents speak adamantly about environmental protection, anything involving Shoreland Zoning laws is bound to bring comment as well as the desire to become educated on the change.
This proposed change will affect only the markings on the Shoreland Zone map.
The proposed updates will not change the zone designations. For example, any area that is categorized as streamland will remain in that category. Also, the regulations governing each zone will stay the same.
Following the January planning board meeting, Chairman Lynne Potter said the board has decided to make only a few ordinance changes at a time.
As a whole, the board agreed this would be an ongoing process. Each year, the board plans to review and draft several amendments in an effort to be more in line with state ordinances.
“The planning board is in the early stages of looking at ordinance revisions, but nothing has been decisive yet,” Seymour said.
Many of the changes to be reviewed in 2015 have to do with definitions.
The planning board will review definitions for streets, access, driveways, impervious surfaces as well as erosion and sedimentation control, Seymour said. New language would also clarify and reorganize the tables for street, access, and driveway standards, he said. These tables are found in both site plan and subdivision ordinances, he said.
A few other areas of the town’s ordinance might be on the planning board’s to-do list — if there is time, he said.
One proposed change was not brought forth by alterations to rules at the state level. Instead, it was a request made by Casco’s Board of Selectmen at the local level.
“We have been asked to review the sign ordinance to see if we can make it easier to understand and a little more business-friendly for smaller local business uses,” Seymour said.

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