News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 3, 2013
Tenants told to park in driveway, affordable housing discussed at Castine Selectmen’s meeting

by Sharon Bray

At the Board of Selectmen’s meeting Monday, December 17, Chairman Peter Vogell and member Gus Basile agreed to withdraw permission for tenants at 83 Court Street to park beside the street during the town’s winter parking ban. Selectman David Unger was absent.

Maine Maritime Academy student Lucas George, one of the four tenants, attended the meeting to argue in favor of keeping their parking ordinance waiver. George had spoken to selectmen at their November 5 meeting. Housemate Ben Cattley had represented the group before the board November 19 when selectmen agreed (2-1, Basile dissenting) to grant a temporary waiver.

A few days later, Basile and Vogell visited the house and determined that the tenants have enough space to park all four cars in the driveway.

When George asked, “Why is the exemption being taken away?” Vogell responded that they have enough room to park four cars off the pavement.

“Besides,” added Vogell, “You’ve got five cars over there.”

George denied having five cars, and Vogell said he had observed the vehicles “three times in the last two weeks.”

“I know we can’t safely accommodate four cars,” George insisted, adding that they “can’t get any traction” on the sloping back section of the driveway.

“Sand like I do in my driveway,” Basile responded and offered to provide two five-gallon buckets for the tenants’ sand.

George repeated much of what he and Cattley had said at previous meetings until Vogell called the question, ending debate.

The parking problem came up again when Doug Coos, member of the former Comprehensive Plan Implementation subcommittee on affordable housing, talked to selectmen about the need for action to provide and regulate housing in Castine.

Subcommittee Chairman Jack Macdonald was not available, but Coos said he and Macdonald would attend the selectmen’s second meeting in January to discuss the issue in greater detail.

Coos gave selectmen copies of a “housing goal” report and plan calling for formation of a joint town and MMA housing committee. The report also outlines support for “development of affordable housing” including accessory and duplex apartments, multi-family units, and cluster developments. The report also addresses the need for planning board involvement in zoning ordinance revisions.

He told selectmen they “need to define what makes up a single family dwelling occupancy.” That definition, he added, “is missing from our ordinance.”

Selectmen and Town Manager Dale Abernethy commented on the complexity and difficulty of coming up with the definition of a “family.”

Abernethy suggested they might have to set a limit on the number of unrelated people who could rent a house.

Bob Friedlander said zoning subcommittee discussions had raised issues including summer and student rentals.

Time limits on rentals to groups of people might be considered, said Vogell.

The number of parking spaces available could also be included in an ordinance, noted Abernethy.

Part of the issue, Coos noted, is landlords wanting to make more money on the rentals.

“Why does the town have to suffer for landlords making money?” Vogell asked.

Resident Arnold Berleant suggested the town hire a professional consultant because “the economic future of the town rests on bringing in” more residents, especially younger families.

Selectmen agreed to put housing issues on the agenda for the December 19 town-gown meeting with the academy.

In other business, selectmen approved the 2013 Water Dept. budget as recommended by the Utility Board.

Don Small, representing the utility board, said income is projected to be slightly above expenses as the water district pays off loans.

With one change to the town manager’s recommendation, selectmen also approved the “updated Transfer Station fee schedule.”

Abernethy added new categories to the fee schedule. Selectmen agreed with his list and descriptions of “inert fill debris (clean gravel, soil, broken concrete, etc.; no asphalt accepted).” Fees for various load sizes range from $5 to $50.

The other new category, since the town now has to pay for disposal, is waste oil. Abernethy recommended a charge of $2 a gallon.

Coos asked if the town could allow a small amount of waste oil to be free of charge to discourage people from dumping it inappropriately.

The board and Abernethy decided to allow free disposal of up to two gallons at a time with the $2/gallon charge kicking in for any amount more than that.

Coos further proposed integrating all transfer station costs into the tax-supported budget to reduce incidents of residents dumping household trash along rural roads.

Noting that many people refuse to recycle, Vogell said the disparity between those who dump very little and large users would be too great.

The fee schedule lists prices for household trash, appliances and furniture, construction and demolition debris, brush, tires, batteries and “universal waste,” which includes other electronics and fluorescent bulbs and mercury components.

Selectmen approved a project to update the town’s website as recommended by economic development consultant Sue Walsh. The new Community and Economic Development Committee has sent out letters asking for donations to support the update.

Town Clerk Susan Macomber noted the selectmen’s January meetings scheduled for Monday, January 7 and Tuesday, January 22 (Monday the 21st being Martin Luther King Jr. Day), both at 4 p.m. in Emerson Hall.