Town of Frye Island Planning Board Meeting
July 22, 2006
Frye Island Community Center
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Paul Peterson at 8:10 a.m.
Present: Marge Hommel, Ed Johnson, Steve Kaplan, Paul Peterson, Kathy Potts, David Treacy, Sam Donio (nominee)
Attendees: Bill Speed, Ed Charrette, Paul White (Carl Hommel, Joe Potts, John Nun, Wayne Fournier, Jim Kuiken, and Jim O’Connor prior to the BOS/Executive Board meeting)
Minutes and Correspondence: The minutes of the July 8, 2006 meeting were approved as written; minutes of the July 15, 2006 were approved as amended.
Board Discussion of Frye Island Growth Ordinance –
Review of the Current Status: Copies of the Ordinance and Growth Permit Application were distributed; Board members were also given copies of the lists of applicants for Growth Permits for the years 2006-2014. Another sheet indicated when the deeds for the affected lots were recorded at the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds. (Of the 111 current applicants for Growth Permits, 46 purchased their property with knowledge of the Growth Permit’s inception and passing, and/or were Frye Islanders when the Growth Ordinance went into effect.) In calendar year 2005, two applicants relinquished their positions on the list; to date in 2006, four applicants have decided against building and their places on the list have been offered to the first four in 2007.
Current Effectiveness vs. Original Objectives: Prior to the Growth Ordinance, the Building Permits issued for new construction varied from year to year in a cyclical fashion, ranging from 3 to as many as 20-25 permits being issued annually. The current Ordinance permits no more than 15 new home “starts” annually. Opinion by some members of the Board and public is that the Ordinance has resulted in an artificial growth rate on Frye Island, and is forcing some owners to build before they actually wish to begin construction. While generally speaking, several members of the Board and the alternates, did feel that the current ordinance was providing a growth cap. Others cited contrary anecdotal evidence that homes are still being built on speculation. Some people prefer to allow a “free-floating” issuance of Building Permits, with the economy determining the number issued and, on average, leveling out the peaks and valleys of building starts. An opinion was stated that the price of existing homes has risen above normal market value because the Growth Ordinance has made it difficult to build in a timely fashion; the overpriced resale homes are affecting the Island’s tax base and results in a negative impact on the Town’s SAD 6 school assessments. Another attendee opined that the Growth Ordinance would not withstand a court test. Paul White, CEO, stated his opinion that the Ordinance has helped with orderly expansion, and that the brief amount of time the Ordinance has been in place hasn’t allowed time to gauge its long-range effect. He also stated that although the State has put more guidelines into effect, it is not eliminating Growth Ordinances.
Intended/Unexpected Impact: The primary complaint heard in the CEO’s office is from those who have owned property for years, now want to build, and are forced to wait.
It was pointed out that although the Ordinance was intended to relieve stress on the Town’s infrastructure, we continue to experience major difficulties with the water system and the ferry. Some property owners have been granted tax abatements by a former Town assessor, based on their ineligibility to obtain a Growth Permit for several years. Concern was expressed that others may be encouraged to follow suit, which could result in a negative impact to the Town’s revenue. It was suggested that the abatements already granted be challenged by the Town.
Other Issues: These include people holding more than one place in the annual Growth Permit application list; whether or not Growth Permit applications are transferable; trading and selling Permit applications; current Island valuation; the possibility of deferring one’s place in the applicant list; possible amendments to the current Ordinance; its retention as is; and its abolishment.
Possible Amendments or Changes: Steve Kaplan stated his view that the Growth Ordinance is not accomplishing planned objectives, and should be eliminated. David Treacy distributed a draft amendment, which would allow an applicant to defer, upon payment of a fee, to the following year. It was suggested by Ed Charrette that a possible “lottery” be held for any places abandoned by applicants. Joe Potts suggested that the current Ordinance be rescinded in two years, but allow the current applicants to build in that period of time. It was suggested that people be allowed to trade and/or sell their slots and/or Growth Permits; others felt that would create a “commodity,” resulting in a negative situation. Another possibility would be a one-time reordering of the list, then a return to the current process. Kathy Potts suggested that people be allowed to defer for one or two years without filling their vacant position, and add the name to the following year, with an average – not necessarily strict --growth rate of 15 new starts per year. Paul White stated his position that the Growth Ordinance should either be eliminated or retained as-is.
Action Item: Dave Treacy and Sam Donio will work on a possible amendment to the Growth Ordinance which will include a deferment and add a lottery provision, with specifics and time periods included. Their work is to be completed by the next Planning Board meeting. At the time, other choices to be considered will be abolishing or keeping the Ordinance as currently written. The Board is working toward a recommendation to the BOS/Executive Committee by the end of August, which would provide them time to call a special Town meeting on Labor Day, if they desire.
Comprehensive Plan –
Work is continuing on the Comprehensive Plan. The list of participants will be sent to the FINS with a call for additional volunteers.
Future Meeting Dates –
Saturday, July 29, 8:00 a.m. (Working Meeting) *note: changed to 7/28, 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 19 (tentative Public Hearing)
Saturday, August 26, 8:00 a.m. (Working Meeting)
The meeting was adjourned at 10:35 a.m.