Town of Frye Island Planning Board Meeting
July 28, 2006
Frye Island Community Center
The meeting was called to order by Vice-Chairman Ed Johnson at 7:05 p.m.
Present: Sam Donio, Marge Hommel, Ed Johnson, Steve Kaplan, Kathy Potts,
David Treacy, Paul Peterson
Attendees: Harry Zea, Ron Cedrone, Vic Solomini
Minutes and Correspondence: The minutes of the July 22, 2006 meeting were approved as written.
Old Business: Board Discussion of the Growth Control Ordinance
The Board considered three options: Repealing the Ordinance in its entirety; retaining the Ordinance as written; amending the Ordinance. There was considerable discussion and debate concerning the pros and
cons of these options. The highlights of these comments follow.
Repeal of Current Ordinance –
Discussion: Steve Kaplan recommended discarding the Growth Control Ordinance because it has had no positive impact on the infrastructure problems, and the probable annual rate of construction is closer to 15, rather than the 25 perceived by the public. He believes that the ordinance moved the bar for Building Permits up, rather than down. Kathy Potts pointed out that the current ordinance was passed unanimously by the BIT, and doubts that they will favor a repeal of the ordinance. Steve responded that the Growth Ordinance was overwhelmingly approved, but that was then and things change. In his conversations with a great many people who previously voted for the ordinance, they now state that they are against having a Growth Ordinance of any kind for a variety of reasons. (It was at this point that Paul Peterson arrived and assumed the role of Chair.) Paul Peterson affirmed that it was the voters’ choice in 2002 to have a Growth Control Ordinance in order to control and manage growth. Marge Hommel stated that increased growth will only make the current ferry situation worse. Dave Treacy stated that people are building out of fear of not being able to build in the future or on their own terms, and that it’s a consequence no one thought of when the Ordinance was designed; it would be a mistake, however, to repeal it. Ed Johnson’s reply was that the Ordinance is broken. Paul Peterson stated he believes that it is too early to toss the Ordinance out, as the current infrastructure pressures stem from past unrestricted growth on Frye Island and not the existing Growth Ordinance. We need to give the existing ordinance, with modifications, time to work. Its value will come from the impact it has on the last 150 cottages, not the first 500. Because growth on Frye Island is due to past policy and an emerging market, we should see if we can fix what is broken the most, what is most unfair. As to increased or “forced” housing starts, Paul stated that it is better to know the cap on new starts rather than attempt to base Island infrastructure plans on the unknown.
Retain the Growth Control Ordinance as Written –
Discussion: It was agreed that there seems to be an overwhelming need to repair the Ordinance. Dave Treacy stated that every year, as more homes are constructed, there is less room to accommodate the resulting congestion on town roads and the ferry. Ed Johnson asked that we not lump the two problems together. The Board concurred that the Ordinance should not be retained as written.
Amend the Current Ordinance – It was agreed that being forced to build not on one’s own timetable
is the primary issue of unfairness in the current ordinance
Discussion: Dave Treacy stated that the Ordinance should include a deferral process, which would eliminate the possibility that some owners are being forced to build before they are ready. The question arose regarding names appearing multiple times on the list, although prohibited in the current language. It was stated that there appears to be a problem with enforcement of the current ordinance. The tax abatements being granted some property owners was discussed briefly; Paul Peterson asked that the Board uncouple the tax abatement issue from the discussion of amending the Growth Ordinance. Regarding the perceived inability of long-time property owners to build in a timely fashion, it was pointed out that data proves differently: most people who had owned their property prior to the Growth Ordinance, in many cases 10 to 15 years earlier, were able to build within two year after its adoption. Paul Peterson stated that if people had acted in 2003, they would now have a house.
Four proposed amendments to the current Growth Control Ordinance (prepared by David Treacy, Sam Donio, Paul Peterson and Kathy Potts – see attachments) were distributed and considered by the Board. The proposed amendments included general language changes; deferments; a change in annual lists; a lottery to provide a more level field; and implementation of potential changes in the system. As discussion progressed, the Board modified the draft Compromise Amendment.
Comments: Paul asked how amendments would limit growth; Steve replied keeping the numbers intact would limit growth. Comments were made that a lottery should eliminate the abatement issue, although Paul stated that he was uncomfortable with the concept of a lottery. The Board agreed that a lottery would be included in a revised Ordinance.
The deferment process was discussed at length. One amendment suggested that vacancies created by deferrals not be filled; thus some years would have fewer and other years greater numbers of new homes being built, but would average out over time. The question arose regarding the length of time allowed for a deferral. Sam Donio stated that two years gave applicants a satisfactory period of time in which to solve any situation which would require a deferment. Dave asked what injury would be done by indefinitely “parked” Growth Permits. Marge Hommel said we should consider any unintended consequences that may result from multiple deferments in any given year. Dave suggested that references to under and/or over-built years be made in the Ordinance language. Paul and Marge expressed a concern that we would create an excessively large “bubble” by allowing deferments. Dave stated that it would result in higher costs and longer construction time for people building in those years. Paul said that we would have to allow space in later years for people deferring. Sam suggested a possibility of limiting the number of deferments to no more than five per year. Marge suggested that we may foresee 23-24 new building starts in a “bubble” year. It was suggested that one way to alleviate excessive starts in a given year would be to eliminate the lottery that year. Dave said that if we allowed applicants to move up in the list when a deferment was granted, there would be no “bubble.” Kathy replied that would result in “forcing” people to build before they expected to begin construction, and Marge said that the process of rolling people forward could result in more deferrals. Dave stated that he felt a deposit of $1,000 to defer is excessive. Others reminded him that the fee will be applied toward the applicant’s future Building Permit expenses. The Board agreed that deferments would be allowed for a period not to exceed three years, and that a $1,000 application fee will be charged.
The reordering of the current Growth Permit Application List was discussed. Marge Hommel suggested that we keep the CEO’s current list as-is, , divide it by 15 names and freeze it. After lengthy discussion, it was agreed that the current list of people applying for a Growth Permit will be converted to lists of people holding Growth Permits for specific years, as per Marge’s suggestion. People will be notified of the year they can convert the Growth Permit to a Building Permit.
Site work language will be rewritten by Ed Johnson.
Marge Hommel moved to accept the modified Compromise Amendment to the Growth Ordinance with appropriate changes. Upon reading and review by the Planning Board, it will be passed to the Board of Selectmen/BIT Executive Committee for its perusal. Ed Johnson seconded the motion. Motion passed, 4-1 (Dave Treacy voting against.) The alternates to the Board also indicated approval.
A Public Hearing is tentatively scheduled for August 19, 2006 to present the modified compromise amendment to the Town.
Changes to current Growth Ordinance –
Marge Hommel will change the language in the current Growth Ordinance to reflect changes referring to the application process.
Dave Treacy will write language in the Ordinance pertaining to the Building Permit.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:40 p.m.