Casco voters nix reduced lot size ruling

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Residents made a loud and clear statement against a proposed ordinance that would reduce the lot size for proposed businesses in the Village District and throughout town in areas zoned for commercial use.

The vast majority of property owners voted against the ordinance, Article 26, during Casco Town Meeting on Wednesday.

Therefore, any such changes to loosen restrictions on small businesses are null and void.

Some of Wednesday night’s testimony was fired up by a sign that said, “[General Dollar] coming soon.” The sign appeared last week on the property between the Crossroads convenience store and the town-owned lot that houses the Casco Fire Station and the Town Office.

Resident Peg Dilley said that, if passed, the ordinance would change the character of the town.

Resident Pat Troy said allowing businesses to exist on smaller lot sizes would negatively impact the many bodies of water in Casco.

“Changing the lots sizes to make them smaller it is not the way to protect Casco. Let’s encourage our local people to start businesses,” she said.

“Let us not let businesses ‘from away’ and out-of-state suck our money out of Casco, and out of Maine,” Troy said.

Resident Lucy Johnson agreed the lot-size reduction for future businesses could harm surrounding sources of water.

“The zoning proposal that I see — it doesn’t address water protection, erosion mitigation,” she said.

“If we go ahead with this tonight, we may open Pandora’s Box, and we may not be able to shut it,” Johnson said.

Dilley suggested the towns’ people brainstorm what kind of businesses they would like to bring to town. They could lure in eco-friendly commerce that would dovetail with people’s ideals.

Resident Bob Francis said he moved to Casco 30 years ago.

“I remember coming here and my kids would cheer the blinking light at Route 121. We don’t want our grandkids to see a big box store,” he said.

Resident Ray Grant spoke. As a former Casco Board of Selectmen, a few months ago Grant introduced the idea of making the amendment to the business ordinance. A public hearing was held prior to putting the item on a Warrant Article.

“If people here tonight vote against the [General Dollar] store, the ordinance doesn’t change that. They still have land, and the 300-foot frontage,” Grant said.

“The proposal was to get some businesses into town. We are so restrictive that you have to have 300 feet of road frontage, if you want to put in a simple shoe store,” he said.

“As far as pollutants and water runoff that is all addressed by the planning board,” Grant said.

Barbara York said it would be easier to accept it if the change was offered up as two amendments — one for the Village District and another for commercial districts in town.

Sharlene Spalding went to the microphone, saying, “If this fails tonight, the [General Dollar] can go in anyway. If this fails tonight, it doesn’t affect what happens with that.”

Casco Town Manager Dave Morton addressed the governing body.

“We have no idea what Dollar General is planning? We have not seen an application. What Dollar General is doing is investigating some property. If Dollar General meets the requirements before the planning board” it could construct a store in Casco, Morton said.

An audience member said, “It sounds like we need to look at some other ordinance” to prevent that.

When the discussion was wrapped up, most residents voted against the amendment, with about 10 people favoring it.

To view the Casco Town Meeting in its entirety, go to http://cascomaine.org. and scroll Lake Region Television (TV) at the bottom of the page, where Cable TV show times or live streaming can be  accessed.  

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