Citizens Group seeks zoning

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

Four members of Citizens For Responsible Growth asked the Bridgton Planning Board Tuesday to request that the Board of Selectmen appoint a new Committee on Land Use Regulation, to get to work right away on developing a zoning ordinance that would be ready for a vote on Nov. 8.

The committee would be comprised of members of the planning board, board of selectmen, Keep Bridgton Local, Citizens for Responsible Growth, Lakes Environmental Association, Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Bridgton Hospital and the general public, as proposed. All meetings would be open and public informational meetings would be held monthly.

Mike Tarantino, Chuck Renneker and Mark Lopez appeared before the board to present a letter written by Ray Turner. All are members of the town’s economic development committee. The planning board, meeting in workshop, accepted the letter and put it on their agenda for their next regular meeting, next Tuesday, March 1.

Turner’s letter said that while “standard operating procedure” would be to wait for the newly-appointed comprehensive plan committee to complete its work before new ordinances are proposed, “The current overwhelming interest in land use regulation by the citizens of Bridgton demands action by both the planning board and board of selectmen to expedite the updating of the current land use regulations to guide Bridgton’s future.

The letter states that the Town Zoning Ordinance that was narrowly passed on March 1, 1971, by a vote of 285 to 278, was repealed six years later, on June 6, 1977. Since then, the letter states, critical areas such as the downtown and Bridgton’s small villages in Sandy Creek, South Bridgton and elsewhere have had protections offered by falling under the site plan review ordinance. Much of downtown is affected by the town’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, which was combined with state shoreland zoning on June 12, 1996.

Turner’s letter states that a Committee on Land Use Regulation would enlist the office of Community and Economic Development “to use Form Based Codes and traditional zoning as an approach to develop coherent land use regulations. This committee would start work as soon as appointed by the Board of Selectmen.

“They would work concurrently with the appointed Comprehensive Planning Committee and the Planning Board with the state target of bringing to the citizens of Bridgton a comprehensive land use regulation ordinance to vote on Nov. 8, 2011.”

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