New Land Use (Zoning) Committee seeks members

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton Selectmen are actively seeking residents who want to have a hand in shaping future land use policy — a.k.a. zoning — in town.

At their last meeting, the board finalized the charge, mission and authority for a new Land Use Policy Planning Ad Hoc Committee that will transform the goals of the Comprehensive Plan into legal ordinances with teeth. The advisory committee will consist of at least three, and up to seven members, with one member each from the Selectmen and the Planning Board acting as a liaison.

Selectman Bob McHatton, wanting there to be no mistaking the importance of this new advisory committee, pressed hard for the word “zoning” to be included in the document.

“I want the public to be totally informed as to what this is,” he said. McHatton asked Anne Krieg, Director of Planning, Economic and Community Development, for advice.

“Land use regulations and zoning are interchangeable terms,” Krieg acknowledged. But there is a distinction, she added. “Zoning is the document that comes out of the land use policy.”

The board agreed to have the word “zoning” added in parentheses after the words “land use” in order to make it clear that the committee’s purpose, as stated, “is to work with staff by confirming the land use policy and reviewing language for the development of ordinances and/or applicable regulations governing future development in Bridgton.

The creation of the committee is the next big step in a process that was sparked four years ago by the controversy over McDonald’s restaurant coming to Portland Road. Originally, it was thought that the ad hoc committee should focus on managing growth on Portland Road and the other downtown gateway corridors.

The board was persuaded to broaden the committee’s charge after Krieg explained the perils of piecemeal zoning. The Comprehensive Plan recommends the creation of seven areas of town, each with their own needs and growth patterns, as follows: Downtown Village Business District, Downtown Village Neighborhoods, Inner Corridor, Outer Corridor, Outer Village Neighborhood, Lakeside Neighborhood and Rural Neighborhood.

Once enough residents have come forward so that the board can select who will be on the committee, their work will begin. The committee will meet regularly, working with Krieg to draft ordinance language, and will report their progress quarterly to selectmen. It is expected that at least two or three of the members of the Comprehensive Plan Committee will want to work on this new zoning implementation committee, but selectmen specifically sought to open up the process to get more residents involved.

Those interested in serving on the new Land Use (Zoning) Policy Planning Ad Hoc Committee are encouraged to apply in person at the Bridgton Municipal Complex or go to the town’s website at www.bridgtonmaine.org

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