Calais City Council

By Amy Jeanroy

Calais City Council met February 11 with council members Artie Mingo, Anne Nixon, Marcia Rogers, Scott Geel, and Eddie Moreside in attendance. 

After approval of the Consent Agenda, the council quickly moved on to the public hearing regarding the shoreland Zoning Ordinance. 

Jim Porter started out by saying shoreline zoning has been around for many years and applies to all land within 250 feet of normal high water line of a great pond, rivers, lakes and boundaries of wetlands (75 feet from streams). The City is mandated to enact ordinances with no less direction than the minimum guidelines given by the state. These have to be updated every five years. The proposed guidelines have been created for discussion and approval with the following changes: 

• Opting to not regulate piers, docks and wharfs because most of them are temporary, grandfathered or in the case of those on the river which are regulated by the State and Army Corps of Engineers. 

• Elimination of the volume calculation of nonconforming structures which means if you have a principal structure less than 100 feet from the water it can be expanded as long as it hasn’t been expanded since 1989.

• Set standards for removal of hazardous trees where replanting may be required or replanting standards where over-cutting has occurred.

• Proposes a limited commercial district (described as mixed light commercial and residential uses which should not be developed as intently as general development districts) includes areas of two or more acres in size devoted to a mix of residential and low intensity business uses. Industrial uses are prohibited. 

The area proposed is the area from the golf course to the former Taylor’s Furniture. This designation is best described as what has been going on since the 70s. Comprehensive planning has identified and proposed this area as commercial going back at least 40 years. 

It was recently pointed out at a planning board meeting that the shoreland zoning ordinance does not support the comprehensive plan because the area is designated as limited residential. Since Calais is mandated to update the shoreline standards at this time, it makes sense to align the ordinance with the comprehensive plan to the greatest extent allowed by these standards. Uses already allowed in this area include cabin rentals, used car sales, car dealership, landscaping, take-out, boat storage facility, college, high school and former retail. These are all activities not allowed in residential neighborhoods. 

Porter: I would ask that if approved I would request that we take out lots, the two lots next to the golf course and the two lots adjacent to it because the proposed use plan from the comprehensive plan of 2009 calls for it to be residential. 

The meeting was then opened for public comment. 

Tom Webster asked if the owner of the proposed takeout decided to remove the house that currently stands on the property and replace it with a new house and/or takeout, and if that would be ok. 

Jim Porter: Yes, because it is a non-conforming use. 

Webster: So basically, if someone wants to build a business in Calais and there was always a business there, it is allowed. It’s good for Calais and I don’t see anything wrong with it. 

Another member asked what it would do to property taxes in the area. 

Porter: It is taxed based on what you do with it. 

Attorney Dan Lacasse representing Vaughn Eldredge spoke next. He said that he had researched the  issue thoroughly. His client objects to the resurrection of the Ice Cream Patch. When he was confronted with the proposal he was willing to work with the new owners but the results of his discussions have not been fruitful. 

Lacasse: What has happened initially was that the owners of the proposed Ice Cream Patch were not able to do what they had wanted so the council decided to change the zone to accommodate the new owners and it was illegal and the city had been served a notice of suit. 

Then it went back to planning board that even though the zoning issue had been resolved, the shoreline zoning hadn’t been resolved and now the board is changing the shoreline zoning ordinance. He feels that it is clearly an effort of the council or some members of the council to allow the owners do what they want to do. 

The state wants you to change the shoreline ordinance, but not just to accommodate a business owner. Calling it a systematic effort by the city to rezone by whatever means necessary to promote business development and that is not a uniform application of the law or ordinances.

Next Attorney John Foster, representing Lucy and Rob Feldkircher who own the property in question, that they would like to replace a bigger and better take out stand and do it properly. According to Attorney Foster, the Feldkirchers have gone through every step that the  code enforcement officer and city manager suggested they go through. 

“It is surprising to us that this lawsuit has been filed. It’s a frivolous lawsuit. It’s real purpose is just to delay the project and buy time to keep the Feldkircher from carrying out their plans for this season while this gets litigated at great expense to everybody, including the city.” Foster stated. 

“This ordinance is not only consistent with the history of that stretch of the road, and it consistent with the other businesses that are currently in that area.”

The council had no questions and approved the ordinance with the change requested by Jim Porter. 

In old business: 

An update on the developments on St. Croix Apartments: Porter said that HUD is arranging a meeting for folks coming to meet with the tenants, city officials and congressional delegation. No date has been set. 

Tim Krug, Code Enforcement for Calais, is dealing with Gleich’s attorney in Dover Foxcroft to work together to get Simplex to install the firebox. Gleich was told that this issue has to be resolved despite the HUD issue, although it will help with the HUD situation. Krug also called several elevator companies that were familiar with the facility and would be willing to work via payment arrangements to get the elevator back in service. 

“It looks promising at this point. I am hoping to have everything up and running within the next couple of weeks,” Krug said. 

There were no committee reports  for the Finance, Property, Public Safety, Public Works, School Liaison committees. 

CDRC had a meeting Monday night where signage and banners were discussed.

Board Appointments  were made. They included Christine Phillips as an alternate on the planning board, Michael Seymour and Brian Nichols as members of the zoning board of appeals and Donald Dinsmore as alternate on the zoning board of appeals.

Next order of business was to solicit bids on interim financing of $500,000 South and Harrison Street sewer project. 

Although the Rural Development $1.3 million grant is in place, the way that the financing works, they require interim financing in place. Once the project is complete, they convert that into their loan and bond. Rates are very good right now according to Porter. This was unanimously approved. 

Next was the approval of the sewer commitment for the quarter. With some discussion on the percentage rate of 7% that is added, Porter said that the percentage was set by the state. The motion carried. 

Finally, there was a discussion by Chief Posick addressing why more than one emergency vehicle is sent on a call. 

He explained that it depends on the call. With many upstairs and basement living arrangements, it can require more people to get them out. An issue that is happening more frequently is back to back calls. Two people always go in one vehicle, but if there is another call, one person cannot leave the scene and go to another call alone. 

It also matters with the distance to a call. He said that if there is an ambulance call in Red Beach, it is a long way to go if more people are needed, so they send whomever they can. If there is a cardiac call, it is standard to send everyone to give the patient every chance they can. He sends them in more than one vehicle in case there is another call, but everyone available goes. 

 

The council then went into Executive Session.