A request for a zoning change that would allow the caretakers of Wood Island Lighthouse in Biddeford to install a septic system is moving forward.

The Biddeford Planning Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to send a proposed contract zone for the property back to the City Council and recommended it be adopted.

The Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse organization wants to install a septic system that could allow a keeper to live at the lighthouse during the summer. Future plans for the lighthouse also include hosting educational programs and possibly allowing overnight stays for small groups of people.

A keeper last lived at the lighthouse in 1986. In recent years, the island has been a popular destination for kayakers and visitors who take tours put on by Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse.

The idea of having a summer keeper has grabbed people’s attention, but members of the friends organization are more focused on getting a septic system and finishing interior renovations to the keeper’s house by midsummer. The septic system would replace the defunct overboard discharge system that had previously been used. The exterior renovation of the lighthouse and keeper’s house have already been completed.

City staff had recommended the contract zone because it would allow the septic work to be done without making changes to the shoreland zoning along the rest of the city’s coast. The City Council expressed interest in the concept of the contract zone and referred the issue to the Planning Board to work out the details.

The all-volunteer Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse has been raising money since 2003 to preserve and restore the lighthouse and keeper’s house. All work at Wood Island is done using National Park Service restoration guidelines as administered by the Maine State Historic Preservation Commission and the Coast Guard.

The City Council vote on the contract zone has not been scheduled.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

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