Ordinances, elections listed on Durham annual Town Meeting warrant

Nathan Fournier, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
·3 min read

Mar. 6—DURHAM — Voters will elect officers and decide on ordinance amendments for back lots and home-based businesses at the annual Town Meeting on April 6 at the AMVETS hall at 1049 Royalsborough Road.

A public hearing on the 36 warrant articles is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, via Zoom.

The proposed budget for this year is $3.64 million, compared to $3.49 million for fiscal year 2020, which ended Dec. 31.

Voters will also choose three municipal officers. George Richard is running unopposed for selectman/assessor, Candace deCsipkes is running unopposed for Regional School Unit 5 director, and Budget Committee member Neil Berry is being challenged by Leigh Fisher. Each position is for three years.

Officials are proposing changing the ordinance on back lots to give the Planning Board authority to review new roads that affect public safety and abutters.

Voters adopted a policy that requires at least 350 frontage and about eight acres for the development of a back lot. Three hundred feet of road frontage is used for the 2-acre front lot.

The remaining 6 acres would become the back lot using the remaining 50 feet of road frontage for the right of way. The right of way is not part of the back lot acreage. Presently, the allowance for developing private roads enables people to put in multiple standard two-acre lots on a private gravel road with no review by the Planning Board.

The Planning Board's authority is limited to approving a maintenance agreement, but there's no public process for reviewing such new roads.

The Land Use Ordinance requires a 20-foot wide road to serve a single back lot.

To address these issues, the Planning Board proposes limiting access to back lots to a 16-foot wide gravel driveway. Any further development would follow the same process and meet the same standards as a subdivision, with public notice of abutters.

One proposal is to abandon the "private road/public road" distinction that was based on the town's prior Growth Management District and repealed by voters in 2019. The proposed ordinance amendments classify new roads according to their function as "minor local" or "local" roads, with design standards that roughly follow the current public and private road conventions.

Proposed amendments to the home-based businesses ordinance would provide clearer standards, including specific, measurable limits on the area of the home that can be used and the amount of outside storage area allowed and require that it be screened.

Based on these limits, more flexibility would be given for the number of nonresident employees of the business. The number of allowed parking spaces would also be specified and limited, and a measurable standard applied to the traffic generated by the business.

The Town Office is accepting applications for absentee ballots, which will be available March 6 and will be mailed to residents. There is one ballot for warrant articles and one ballot for election of officers.

To request an absentee ballot contact the town clerk at 207-353-2561, ext. 11.

In-person voting may be done now at the Town Office during regular business.

To request an absentee ballot contact the town clerk at 207-353-2561, ext. 11.

Last month selectmen approved mailing absentee ballots at a cost of just under $1,104 for printing and $511.80 for postage.

In other town business, selectmen will review resumes for the town manager position during an executive session March 9.