Planning Board finishes final hearing on inside-the-bypass zoning changes

By Dan West | Jul 15, 2014

Belfast — City Planner Wayne Marshall delivered his final presentation on proposed zoning changes to areas inside the bypass July on the Downtown Commercial and Waterfront Zones.

Marshall's presentation, which lasted around 40 minutes, was the final of three public hearings held by the Belfast Planning Board on proposed zoning changes within the Route 1 bypass.

Unlike some of the other zoning districts within the bypass, the Downtown Commercial and Waterfront Zones will not see too many changes, Marshall said. The current uses allowed in those zones will remain essentially the same, as will the current set backs. Some small changes will be made to increase the lot size in the commercial district, Marshall said.

The two most significant changes proposed, Marshall said, will be an increase in the size of the commercial district as it will now incorporate parts of the former Waterfront 1A Zone and a change in the height restriction within the commercial zone.

The current building height restriction in the downtown commercial area, which is centered around the Main Street and High Street intersection, is 60-feet. The proposal would leave the central most portion of that zone at the 60-foot height restriction, but would decrease the allowable building height around the perimeter of the zone to 45-feet. That would include portions of the current Waterfront 1A Zone, which are currently restricted to a 35-foot building height.

Mike Lewis, a property owner in the Downtown Commercial Zone, spoke against the changes to the height restrictions, favoring the lower height limits currently in place. Lewis said he found some of the changes confusing and said he wanted the city to preserve views of the harbor. He said he supported most of the proposal, but on the height restrictions he said, "I am not on board with that."

The Planning Board will review the comments submitted during its public hearing before passing on its recommendation for zoning changes within the Route 1 bypass area to the City Council. The council will then begin its own set of public hearings on the matter in late August or September, said Marshall.

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