Published 4:26 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008
will be reviewed
Commissioners to rework new Bath business rules
By TED STRONG
BATH — After meeting with stiff resistance from the town’s populous, new rules proposed for Bath’s business districts have been slated for more revision.
Many residents came to ask the board of commissioners not to implement the proposed changes.
Claudia Alligood remembered a past that included businesses in Bath’s downtown.
The proposed zoning law, which is essentially a list of what types of businesses are allowed in which parts of town, called for moving many types of businesses from the historic center to a newer part of town.
It sought to allow trattorias but not restaurants in the town’s historic center and to restrict development by creating density limits in the historic area.
Developer John Baldwin, and his wife, Sandy, said they felt targeted by the proposed changes.
Baldwin has several projects under way in Bath, including bringing a restaurant to the historic district.
But some residents came out to warn about the dangers of development.
After the crowd finished speaking, commissioners also expressed reservations about the proposal, which was drafted by the Planning Board for consideration by the commissioners.
Commissioner Rob Jenner said he also thought proposal might be too restrictive and that the board should rework the plan — as many residents said they wanted done.
Board member Marty Fulton also said that she didn’t think the proposal was ready for a vote.
Commissioner Jay Hardin, who called the proposal “rushed and rough,” also pointed out that density restrictions would be tough to meet because lot sizes in the old part of town can be bizarre. He also worried the proposed list of permitted uses is too restrictive.
Several board members had questions about what specific wording in the new proposal meant. Hardin said he was unsure about the provision on eateries.
Hardin went on to list several types of eateries allowed under the new proposal: cafes, bistros, trattorias and coffee shops.
A shout came from the middle of the crowd that it didn’t, which also is what Dr. Ira Hardy said when he proposed the measure to the Planning Board.
Fulton asked Town Attorney Wayland J. Sermons Jr. what the word “units” meant. Sermons said he wasn’t sure what the authors had meant by using that word. He said any proposal should be referred to town staff before it is enacted so the staff can professionalize the language.
Commissioners asked Sermons what their options were for disposing of the proposal. He told them they could send it back to the Planning Board, tinker with the draft themselves or let it die, but that the decision was up to them.
The commissioners decided to rework the proposal, with the help of the Planning Board, at the Planning Board’s Oct. 27 meeting.
Mayor James Latham said the delay could save the town’s future.