February 20, 2002
Rich Roedner, Town Manager
Town of Frye Island
1 Sunset Drive
Frye Island, ME 04071
Dear Mr. Roedner:
First, let me apologize for the lateness of this review. As has been communicated by email, circumstances have been such that completing your review on time was not possible. Your patience in this matter has been appreciated.
The review of Frye Island’s comprehensive plan is now complete and I am happy to let you know that the plan is consistent with the State’s growth management act. There are a number of suggestions below to both improve the quality of the plan and improve its accuracy with respect to referenced state law, however, none of these concerns rises to the level of an objection that would indicate inconsistency with the growth management act.
Please review the suggestions carefully and consider, at the very least, incorporating the corrections to incorrectly referenced state law.
Suggestion 1. The first sentence on page 1 states that the 1988 Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Act (the Act) requires all towns in Maine to develop and maintain a town comprehensive plan. This is inaccurate. The 1992 amendments to state law changed the Act significantly, including making it voluntary. Since 1992, developing and maintaining a comprehensive plan is only mandatory under certain circumstances and on a certain time frame.
Title 30-A, §4314 subsection (3) of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated indicates that a comprehensive plan is only required in order to have a zoning ordinance, rate of growth ordinance, or an impact fee ordinance. Other than these requirements, a comprehensive plan is 100% voluntary.
I recommend either deleting the first sentence on page 1, or modifying it as follows:
“By Maine Law, the 1988 Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Act requires all towns that wish to regulate land use through zoning, a rate of growth ordinance, or an impact fee ordinance to develop and maintain a town comprehensive plan.”
Suggestion 2. A similar inaccuracy to the issue in Suggestion 1 is found in the first sentence of the third paragraph on page 9. I recommend that the sentence be deleted or modified to read:
“The Comprehensive Plan is a document, required by the State of Maine’s 1988 Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulation Act in towns that wish to have a zoning ordinance, rate of growth ordinance, or impact fee ordinance.”
Suggestion 3. The same inaccuracy as mentioned in Suggestion 1 is found in the first sentence of the fifth full paragraph. In this case I recommend deleting the entire paragraph. It doesn’t seem integral to the document. However, if the town would like to keep the paragraph, I recommend language similar to that in the two suggestions above to make the statement accurate.
Suggestion 4. The fourth bulleted paragraph on page 18 has a reference to Figure 5 in its first sentence. It then indicates that Figure 5 is on page 34. Figure 5 is actually on page 26. I recommend that the town correct this reference.
Suggestion 5. It appears that it will be at least twenty five years before the town has to deal with the 750 septic system limit imposed by a court order in the early 1970s. That is well beyond the planning period of this comprehensive plan, however it seems prudent to start considering the issues that this will raise in the future and the alternatives that may be available.
In particular, near the bottom of page 23, in the last full sentence on the page, there is mention of a moratorium that may result from reaching the 750 subsurface system limit. The town may want to consider the possibility that, beyond the 750 system limit, lot owners may want to install holding tanks. There is also the possibility that some sort of collection and treatment system might be desirable when the 750 system limit is reached in 25 or so years. I don’t have any specific suggestions or recommendations on this topic, but raise it because this comprehensive plan seems to indicate that a moratorium is the only alternative available once the system limit is reached. Additionally, I have not carefully reviewed the court order and it may speak to this issue, and prohibit holding tanks or other alternatives to subsurface disposal systems.
Suggestion 6. Page 26 and 27 discuss the relationship of the lots on Frye Island to Title 12 §4807-D regarding minimum lot sizes. It is unclear in the comprehensive plan how this law relates to the required combination of lots on Frye Island. The plan clearly states that only 15% of the lots on Frye Island meet the required 20,000 square foot minimum lot size requirement for placement of a subsurface disposal system.
Given the fact that a very large number of the existing lots on the island are owned by a single owner, it seems that how this law impacts the number of available building lots on the island is a very important issue. For example, can Frye Island Incorporated sell an existing 14,000 square foot lot and can the new owner then build a single family residence with a septic system on it? Or are Frye Island Incorporated lots not exempt from the law because they were either created after January 1, 1970, and/or because they should have been combined before being sold for single family home construction.
It seems that this is a very big issue on the island impacting prospective land owners as well as impacting the 750 subsurface disposal system limit imposed by the courts. Based on the information in the plan, it doesn’t appear to be an issue that will have a great impact on development over the next 10 years, but reviewing the issue and adding a goal to address this problem would seem prudent.
Suggestion 7. The recommendations of the Maine Natural Areas Program are herby incorporated as a suggestion for correction of inaccuracies in the plan. None of the items raised by the Natural Areas Program has a direct impact on the consistency of the plan with State law, however, the items mentioned should be corrected to ensure the plan inventory is accurate.
OTHER AGENCY COMMENTS
The following parties submitted comments on the Plan to the Office:
Maine Historic Preservation Commission – No comments.
Maine Forest Service. SPO disagrees with the Maine Forest Services concerns about the lack of a street tree and shade tree plan for Frye Island. The island’s roads are 100% unpaved and vary in traveled way width from approximately 16 feet to 22 feet. Vegetation, including trees, generally grow right up to the edge of the traveled way and the roads are generally canopied by existing trees. There is no town owned land or public land on the island besides the roads and a single lot of less than 1 acre, according to the maps supplied. Given these facts a street tree plan or shade tree plan is probably not desirable, and if it were desirable, the lack of such a plan being outlined in the plan would not constitute an objection to the consistency of the plan.
Maine Natural Areas Program. SPO agrees with the concerns expressed by the Natural Areas Program, but does not find that the concerns rise to the level of an objection. The concerns and comments of the Natural Areas Program are hereby incorporated into this finding as suggestions. SPO strongly suggests that Frye Island review the comments of the Natural Areas Program and make the appropriate changes to the plan.
Regional Council: Greater Portland Council of Governments
Rick Seeley of the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) provided comments on the comprehensive plan in a memo dated November 6, 2001. GPCOG identifies a number of suggestions in addition to the ones identified above by SPO. SPO agrees with the suggestions by GPCOG and suggests they be reviewed and incorporated into the comprehensive plan.
Other Parties: No comments.
If I missed something in my review or you disagree or don’t understand a suggestion, please give me a call. If the committee members would like me to meet with them regarding any of the suggestions, please let me know. Your regional council GPCOG (Rick Seeley, 774-9891) is a good source of technical assistance.
Cc: Rick Seeley, GPCOG