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Stakeholders reviewing LUPC subdivision rules

By Sarah Medina

The Land Use Planning Commission’s Subdivision Rules Review stakeholder’s group met on Feb. 25. The plan was to discuss staff options to address both policy questions and technical issues that had been identified as the highest priorities at a January meeting.  The agenda was modified, however, because several attendees (including staff, facilitator and a commissioner) were delayed by the snowy pile-up on I-95.  The policy issues were presented and discussed, but discussion was postponed. Two of four technical issues were fully discussed.

The policy issues are I. Types of Subdivision, II. Layout and Design, III. Clustering and IV. Open space.  Staff proposed a new level of subdivision, a “large lot” division.  Locational factors to be considered in determining where this level would be allowed include such things as service hubs, secondary or recreational hubs, public roads, water, local residential development trend, etc. The concept was shown on a map. Level II subdivisions, phased development, clustering and adjacency are also topics related to Types of Subdivision.  II. Layout and Design contemplates developing design standards that could be applied in different situations (rather than the current layout standard) and developing an optional site analysis approach.  Road setbacks, shared driveways and allowance for future backlot development are also Layout and Design topics. III. Clustering looks at alternatives on when to require clustering, the % of land set aside and some of the technical standards that have been problematic to apply. Open Space (IV) considers requirements/locations for set aside and options in lieu of.

Technical issues include 1. Soil surveys and test pits, 2. Access road design & maximum grade, 3. Subdivision Layout and Design and 4. Application review process.  The goal is to make permitting requirements less burdensome without sacrificing environmental protection.  Options for soils include reducing mapping intensity and # test pits required (in view of NRCS mapping, current septic rules, engineered solutions, etc.)  For roads, a rule revision is proposed: Maximum sustained grade for Class 1 roadways may be increased by up to 5% over that specified in Table 10.25,D-1 below, if no other option is practicable, provided that the roadway portion exceeding the maximum sustained grade standard is no longer than 300 feet in length and is greater than 150 feet from the next down-hill (road) intersection, and the Commission determines that the proposed alternative grade will not cause unreasonable drainage, erosion or public safety impacts.” Subdivision Layout and Design topics (including development on steep slopes, “harmonious fit” and phosphorus loading) will be on the next meeting agenda along with a review of the application process.

The  stakeholder process has worked well to identify and prioritize subdivision issues of concern.  LUPC staff have put considerable thought into developing potential solutions.  The next step for LUPC is to refine documents based on the Feb 25 meeting and to schedule another meeting to discuss the policy issues and remaining technical issues.  In the meantime, landowners also have an opportunity to also review the materials and, through the stakeholder process, contribute to insure the result is meaningful change.  Patrick Strauch and several MFPC members are participating in the process.

The description of the process and background material for all of  the meetings is found at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/lupc/projects/subdivision_review/subdivision_review.shtml

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