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Deer Isle, Isle au Haut and Stonington, Maine.
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by Faith DeAmbrose
A public hearing followed by a special town meeting will take place in Stonington on December 11. The topics of the hearing include discussion of possible changes to the Parking Ordinance, the addition of a Downtown Business District to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance and changes to the Shellfish Ordinance. At the special town meeting, voters will consider three warrant articles specific to the possible acceptance of a land donation and subsequent easement off Main Street.
Beginning at 6 p.m. residents and voters will discuss possible changes to the town’s Parking Ordinance. The Parking Ordinance is one of the few ordinances that can be changed by the board of selectmen without legislative approval. However, any changes to the ordinance can only be made after a public hearing. According to Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris, the selectmen do not intend to immediately change the parking ordinance, but are looking for feedback from residents as they grapple with reoccurring parking issues.
On the docket to be discussed, said Billings-Pezaris, is two-hour parking in the downtown section of Main Street (changed from 24-hour parking), summer seasonal banning of parking on the south side of Main Street, one reserved parking space for library patrons on Hagen Dock during library hours, and winter seasonal parking changes for West Main Street.
Voters will also have an opportunity to discuss proposed changes to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance and the Shellfish Conservation Ordinance, which will be voted on at the special town meeting.
In the Shoreland Zone (that is 250 feet from any body of water) the town is proposing the addition of a “Downtown Business District” to section 13 of the ordinance. Proposed language seeks to clarify the location and intent of the district, while the most substantive change would be a clause that would reserve first floor space of buildings for commercial use. “In the Downtown Business District…first floors must remain commercial space unless “grandfathered” as current residential use. However, a change from residential to commercial will not be reversible once it is changed.” The intent, said Billings-Pezaris, is to provide for a long-term and vibrant business district to help the local economy.
Changes to the town’s Shellfish Conservation Ordinance would include increasing fees for recreational licenses from $1 to $10 for residents and from $2 to $20 for non-residents, as well as language regarding harvesting limits for hen clams and quahogs.
With parking a perennial problem in the summer months, a donation of land from Tewkesbury Building owner Mimi Gerstell seeks to add additional spaces to the downtown area. Three warrant articles, which will be discussed during the 7 p.m. special town meeting, address the potential land donation by authorizing acceptance of the gift and granting an easement in return.
The potential land deal is being called “mutually beneficial” for the town and for Gerstell, said Billings-Pezaris, in that it attempts to do three things: add additional parking spaces, free up land for the installation of a septic tank, and improve long standing drainage issues caused primarily by storm water runoff.
Voters and those interested are asked to attend the hearing that begins at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the town hall. A special town meeting is expected to begin at 7 p.m. where voters will weigh in on the land donation and changes to the Shellfish Conservation Ordinance and the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance.