CHINA — Residents will get a chance to weigh in on how boundaries for a commercial district along Route 3 should be defined at a public hearing Thursday.

The members of the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee can’t agree on the details of the draft document to govern commercial development.

The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Town Office meeting room. Committee members will introduce a proposed site plan review ordinance and accompanying map for residents’ comments.

At a meeting last week, some of the 10 committee members present favored designating the entire nine miles of Route 3 that goes through town as available for commercial development. Others prefer sporadic commercial areas around existing businesses, leaving open space in between, especially where wetlands or other natural features make development doubtful anyway.

Yet another suggestion was to create a development area from the Vassalboro line east only as far as the Dirigo Road intersection.

The document to be discussed at Thursday’s public hearing covers a proposed application process for new commercial and multi-family residential buildings.

Projects are classified a minor or major, depending on the size of the land area to be disturbed, the size of the proposed building or buildings and the potential increase in vehicle traffic.

The draft ordinance requires developers of either a minor or a major project to submit 10 copies of application forms and maps describing their plans. For a major project, an applicant must submit a site inventory and analysis before submitting an application.

The site inventory and analysis includes maps and written descriptions to help the Planning Board determine what parts of the land are suitable for the proposed development and where problems or conflicts might exist.

To approve an application under the proposed ordinance, Planning Board members would need to find that it meets 30 criteria, instead of the 15 required under China’s current ordinance. Different criteria would apply in different districts in town.

The proposed districts are described in a second and longer draft document that is not on Thursday’s public hearing agenda, an amended land use ordinance.

The draft land use ordinance maintains China’s shoreland, resource protection, stream protection and rural districts and adds a historic district for China Village; village districts for South China, Weeks Mills and Branch Mills; a residential A district along China Lake with limitations on future residential development; a residential B district near the villages and along Lakeview Drive where residential growth is to be encouraged; and a business district along Route 3 and Route 137.

Copies of all documents and the draft map are available for inspection at the Town Office.

When the committee began its work in the spring, the goal was to submit proposed ordinance amendments and illustrative maps to voters in November. Several committee members now doubt they will be ready for a November vote.

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