Media Archive

Sebec Village Shops, town draft compromise

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 15, April 09, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Observer Photo / Jessica Lee
COMPROMISE WORK - Attorney Gregory Cunningham, at left, works with Sebec town officials on drafting a consent agreement to bring Sebec Village Shops in compliance with the shoreland zoning laws. In photo, from his right, are Bill Murphy, code enforcement officer, and selectmen Susan Dow and Buzz Small.

SEBEC Selectmen will meet next week with the town's attorney to hammer out details on a draft consent agreement regarding the Sebec Village Shops' violations of the town's shoreland zoning ordinance.

Sebec Village Shops is owned by E. Forbes Smiley III of Martha's Vineyard and Sebec. The town's code enforcement officer, Bill Murphy, determined last month that the business is in violation of shoreland zoning.

While details of the draft consent agreement are not public at this time, the board of selectmen did agree in a straw vote to pursue costs incurred by the town as a result of the code enforcement officer's investigation.

The board also agreed with selectman Susan Dow's assertion that the agreement should include a timetable to bring the development into compliance.

Chairman Buzz Small presented his calculations on the development Monday night, which estimate that the engineers for the job miscalculated the lot's pre-development unvegeated coverage at more than 40 percent. Based on Small's calculations, prior to development, the unvegetated lot coverage was near 34.5 percent.

The lot is grandfathered, as it does not comply with the state or town shoreland zoning laws. However, the parcel can not be made more non-compliant.

There was a question about whether a 400-square-foot section of the property was vegetated or not. In photos provided to the board, the area to the rear of the building appears grassed over in some, while gravel is seen in others.

Small said he might be willing to give the Sebec Village Shops the benefit of the doubt on that section, granting an additional 400-square-feet of unvegetated lot coverage. That compromise brings the grandfathered amount of development to about 38 percent.

Charlene Moriarty, who lives across the street from Sebec Village Shops, said that she would disagree with the compromise agreement. She said that the 400-square-feet should not be allowed for development. "Rules are rules," she said. "That's two parking spots."

Moriarty pointed out that Smiley's appeal on her development across the street focused on that very same issue, vegetation. Smiley's appeal denied by the Sebec Appeals Board - is now in the Maine Superior Court, with the town and the Moriartys named as defendants.

Smiley's attorney, Greg Cunningham, questioned whether the draft consent agreement regarding Sebec Village Shops should be discussed in a public session, with selectmen taking comments from the public.

Dow, selectman, said she would like to contact the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to request information regarding such details as grass growing up through gravel, to determine how the town should count that area.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.