CHINA — Planning Board members have made final adjustments to the draft ordinance on home occupations and will invite public comments next week.

The board has scheduled a 7 p.m. public hearing Tuesday on two proposed ordinance changes. The more controversial one is the revised septic system compliance ordinance, which board members did not have time to discuss in detail this week.

The proposed home occupations ordinance sets standards and limits for two classes of home occupations, intended to minimize negative impacts on neighbors. The first class of occupations involve no more than one non-family employee and while the second class of occupations are allowed to have more employees and more traffic.

Board members had received suggestions for minor changes from the town attorney, and board Chairman Ronald Breton considered the draft finished.

However, a paragraph-by-paragraph review on Tuesday night led to a few more re-wordings and several exchanges between Breton and board member Milton Dudley.

For example, Dudley objected to the entire sentence prohibiting nuisances, offensive noise and other potential annoyances to neighbors. The requirements are vague and undefined, he said.


“If I’ve got a home occupation and I’m reading this and I want to comply, I don’t know when I’m out of compliance,” Dudley said.

Told that the codes officer would be responsible for responding to complaints, Dudley asked what happened if one neighbor complained but other neighbors were undisturbed. He did not want the codes officer in the middle of a neighborhood fight.

Dudley wasn’t placated by the reminder that similar there are no specific standards or limits in other sections of China’s Land Development Code.

Board member Kyle Pierce called the requirements unfriendly to business. She pointed out that someone not in business can mow his lawn late at night, but someone with a home occupation could not disturb the neighbors with late-night noises.

Code Enforcement Officer Scott Pierz said there is “a lot of subjectivity” in most ordinances that he administers. The codes officer and the Planning Board try to use common sense, he said.

Board members voted unanimously to forward the home occupations ordinance section to selectmen with a request that it be put on a June ballot for voter action.

During a short discussion of the septic system inspection program, Tim Wade from Kennebec Water District said district staff members have been searching for studies of septic system impacts on lakes in China. So far, he said, they have found a 1978 University of Maine study of 18 Maine lakes, including China Lake.

Resident Frederic Hayden, who led the petition to repeal the current septic system inspection program, was not impressed with data showing coliform bacteria in one of China’s lakes 34 years ago. He wanted information for all lakes in town, and said that water district officials would naturally favor the town cleaning up China Lake, their water supply.

Pierz told board members if they are to incorporate comments from next Tuesday’s hearing and forward a revised septic system compliance ordinance to selectmen for the June ballot, they will need to hold a special meeting April 17, in addition to their regular meetings on April 10 and 24.

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