CHINA — Planning Board members almost backed out of their assigned task of revising the shoreland septic system compliance program that voters approved in 2009.

Instead of quitting immediately, they decided to seek more input from residents at a public hearing scheduled for March 27.

They also scheduled a workshop meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday to continue discussing the septic system program and revised regulations for home occupations. Board members also voted to forward the current draft of the home occupation rules to the town attorney for legal review.

A proposal to repeal the septic system program is on the June ballot as a result of a petition. Selectmen have asked the Planning Board to prepare a modified version as an alternative to a full repeal so the town would not be completely without regulations for septic systems around lakes.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Planning Board Chairman Ronald Breton recommended holding extra workshop meetings in order to have a final draft by the end of April.

Board member Milton Dudley said that based on residents’ comments at the previous meeting, he favors postponing the draft until after the board hires an independent consultant to evaluate water quality in China’s six lakes and make sure septic system regulation is needed.

Kyle Pierce and Frank Soares agreed with Dudley, leaving Breton and James Wilkens in the minority favoring action this spring.

Breton said planners at least should consult with selectmen before quitting the task of proposing a revised set of rules.

Dudley said he was elected by residents, not the selectmen.

“I heard the people of the town last week — very clearly,” he said, referring to the four residents who presented objections and proposed alternatives to the draft ordinance in February.

Wilkens said even if septic systems contribute only 4 percent of the water quality problems in China Lake, as one study has found, cleaning that amount is better then nothing.

Since 2009, the town has used administrative time to compile lists of shoreland septic systems and notify owners of the requirements, Code Enforcement Officer Scott Pierz said. He said some people already have complied by having their systems inspected or replacing them.

In other business Tuesday, board members also began review of two applications.

Dewayne Gould’s application for timber harvesting on Richard Pearson’s land in a resource protection district on the west side of Dutton Pond was approved in a 4-1 vote. Dudley dissented, after no one else supported his attempt to have the requirement for a post-harvest report deleted.

M.A. Haskell’s application for a new parking area at Tobey’s Market on Route 3 will be on a future agenda, after the applicant has necessary state permits. Board members indicated approval is likely, despite concerns about pedestrian safety in the parking lots.

Mary Grow is a Kennebec Journal correspondent who lives in China.


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