Six Bridgton ordinances to go before voters

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Town Meeting voters at will be asked to bless the work of nearly two years by the Fire Protection Committee and the Bridgton Planning Board in crafting a new Fire Protection Ordinance.

But that’s not all.

Voters will also be asked to approve revisions to five other existing ordinances, most notably the Sign Ordinance, which has taken up over a year of the Planning Board’s time and energy. Other ordinance revisions to be presented to voters will be to the Bear River Aquifer Ordinance, the Site Plan Review Ordinance, Shoreland Zoning Ordinance and Willis Brook Aquifer Ordinance.

Bridgton Selectmen voted April 8 to include all six ordinances on the warrant for the Wednesday, June 11 Town Meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall on North High Street.

One ordinance that doesn’t need voter approval is the Subdivision Ordinance, and at their last meeting, the Planning Board approved revisions that will, for the first time, give the board the authority to require a third-party engineering review for subdivisions to make sure environmental rules are being followed, both in the planning and construction phases.

The Bridgton News will detail the changes in each of the ordinances over the next month. First up, the Fire Protection Ordinance:

After the Fire Protection Committee’s initial recommendation to require sprinkler systems for all new subdivisions and commercial construction was shot down by developers, the committee came back with a compromise plan that would only apply to subdivisions, and turned it over to the planning board for further review.

The ordinance would give developers several options to meet the test of providing “adequate fire protection” for subdivisions located more than 1,000 feet from a public fire hydrant or approved dry hydrant. They can build a fire pond with a dry hydrant, build an underground storage reservoir or cistern with a dry hydrant, or make it possible for the fire department to set up a pumping relay station.

Sprinklers would only be required under the ordinance if a water supply cannot be provided using any of those methods.

If a pumping relay station is used, the center of the station must be located within a mile and a half of a public or year-round road that has a state-approved water source nearby. The fire department will maintain a list of such water sources.

The ordinance also requires developers to construct and maintain a relay station lot to accommodate the pumper engine, tanker engine and tank. The homeowners association will be responsible for maintenance of any commonly used fire protection system. In addition, the code enforcement officer and fire chief must approve the design of all fire ponds, cisterns and pumping relay stations.

Other sections of the ordinance address the need to provide firefighters with access to all properties, including those enclosed by a gate or chain.

At their April 8 meeting, several Selectmen seemed disappointed that the new Fire Protection Ordinance was limited to new subdivisions, and did not apply town-wide to all new construction.

“Is something else coming? I thought they were looking town-wide,” said Selectman Paul Hoyt. Chairman Doug Taft said he thought that, too, but said the limitation to subdivisions originated from the Fire Protection Committee before they turned their work over to the planning board. Taft said he hoped the board planned to address fire protection for all new construction in the future.

Resident Chuck Renneker pointed out, in the planning board’s defense, that there are “very, very stringent rules pertaining to commercial properties” when it comes to fire protection. Resident Mark Lopez agreed, saying that imposing requirements such as sprinkler systems can be a “slippery slope” for a town, in that doing so may impede economic growth.


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