Planning ponders port-a-potty proposal

By Dan West | Jan 15, 2013

The plan for a proposed stand-up paddleboard rental business, which is facing issues over complying with state law regarding restrooms, went before the Belfast Planning Board Wednesday, Jan. 9.

Applicant April Lawrence submitted the plan on behalf of her proposed business, Belfast Paddle Sports, which wants to construct a retail shop inside a portion of the barn at Consumer Fuels Marina at 15 Front St. The shop would act as a staging and provisioning space for guided tour groups and rentals.

Lawrence proposed using a port-a-potty to serve as a restroom for the business; however, state law includes language stating that new businesses are required to construct plumbed bathroom facilities.

Assistant Planner James Francomano said that the portable toilet could be a temporary solution, since the cost of installing a bathroom for such a small business would be prohibitive.

"It's a big barrier to entry," Francomano said.

Lawrence explained that the portable toilet could either be located within the barn or on the back side out of sight. She further stated that it might also be used by marina customers, which caused some Planning Board members to question who the bathroom was meant to serve and who would be in charge of it.

Francomano said the Board could limit the instances in which it would accept a port-a-potty as a substitute for a permanent bathroom facility by restricting them to seasonal businesses on the waterfront. It could further require that it be placed out of view, have a thorough service log kept and take each request to use a port-a-potty on a case-by-case basis.

The board was reluctant to pass a motion endorsing the use of the portable toilet instead of a permanent bathroom. Instead, each member explained his or her position on the port-a-potty solution, coming to a consensus that the Board was generally in favor of the idea. The Board left it to the code enforcement officer to determine how he would enforce the state law, but indicated they would like to see a permanent bathroom added if the business is successful over the next few seasons.

City Planner Wayne Marshall said after the meeting that they thought the port-a-potty was a workable solution to the bathroom problem. He noted that some seasonal town properties like the skate park already utilize portable toilets for bathroom service.

Besides the question of the bathroom facilities, the Planning Board found the application met the standards for shore land zoning and had "more than adequate" parking.

The Board also approved the final site plan for a new SeeBreeze Optometry office, which will be located across from Belfast Area High School at 91 Waldo Ave.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Harold Richardson | Jan 16, 2013 13:03

I watched the meeting and my understanding of the issue was not who was going to be using it but should there be a co-applicant if it wasn't just for the use of the new business.  In my opinion, if the marina there needs bathrooms they should have permanent plumbed facilities installed.  I don't fault the planning board-although they did beat the issue to death-they were following the ordinance and we wouldn't want port-johns all over the place just so a business could avoid the cost of plumbing.  As far as the footbridge-goodluck with that-the veterans groups don't even want benches as people might congregate and destroy the sanctity of the fish gutting.  Hey maybe the bridge seating could actually be those walker potti chairs that you see in the nursing homes and that would take care of both issues.     

Posted by: Amy Slack | Jan 16, 2013 11:07

Putting restrictions on who can use a port-a-potty and when and where is ridiculous. There is really no need to hide them either...what are we children???  If towns around this state would use their heads, they would make accommodations for restrooms year round and have more tourists! There should be a port-a-potty placed near the "footbridge" so folks with medical issues could enjoy the bridge too! Have the "pretty police" town design committee come up with a cutesy design for the port-a-potties so they don't stick out like a sore thumb!

If you wish to comment, please login.