Wilton Selectperson Mike Wells, center, discusses inconsistencies with the Department of Environmental Protection documentation outlining the distance a dwelling can reside next to a body of water with Code Enforcement Officer Gary Judkins, right, on Tuesday, May 2, at the Wilton Select Board meeting. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

WILTON — Wilton Code Enforcement officer Gary Judkins appeared before the Wilton Select Board on Tuesday, May 2, to explain two articles that would make changes to ordinances in the town of Wilton. One change regards the distance dwellings can be from certain bodies of water, another ordinance change regards the size of dwellings.

“I got a call in September from Colin Clark [Department of Environmental Protection’s Shoreland Zoning Coordinator], from DEP,” Judkins stated. “He noticed a couple of issues with ours [and it] doesn’t match DEP guidelines.”

According to Judkins, the zoning ordinances were updated last year and submitted to the DEP for approval. It was noted to Judkins in September of last year that current guidelines regarding dwellings that fall under Resource Protection/ Watershed Overlay needed to be changed from 100 ft. to 250 ft. from the normal high-water line of great ponds and rivers that flow to great ponds, as per DEP request.

In a phone interview with Judkins, he followed this statement up by saying that the 75 feet from other bodies of water, such as tributary streams, or the upland edge of a wetland, would also need to be changed to 250 feet.

Judkins stressed that all other guidelines and their distances from bodies of water would remain the same.

Selectperson Michael Wells took issue with this request and the accuracy of DEP’s document.


“Did he give you a copy of that,” Wells asked. “Because I looked at it today, and I downloaded it from the site.”

The document in question is Chapter 1000: Guidelines for Municipal Shoreland Zoning Ordinances, which can be downloaded for free at DEP’s website.

“This is DEP’s regulations,” Judkins said. “He wouldn’t have called me if it wasn’t right.”

“But I’m looking at the regulation, and I’ll read it to you because I’ve got it right here. And it’s dealing with principal and accessory structures.”

The regulation, located in Chapter 1000 under Line 15, section B, states: All new principal and accessory structures shall be set back at least one hundred [100] feet, horizontal distance, from the normal high-water line of great ponds classified GPA and rivers that flow to great ponds classified GPA, and seventy-five [75] feet, horizontal distance, from the normal high-water line of other water bodies, tributary streams, or the upland edge of a wetland, except that in the General Development I District the setback from the normal high-water line shall be at least twenty five [25] feet, horizontal distance, and in the Commercial Fisheries/Maritime Activities District there shall be no minimum setback.

Wells went on to ask if the changes to DEP’s guidelines were recent, which Judkins indicated were not.


“It’s always been 100 feet,” Well asserted. “I’ve dealt with this on numerous projects.”

“It’s 250 feet in certain areas,” Judkins said. “I got this right from him. This call came in September, and I’ve talked it over [with] the planning board.”

“I’m just concerned because it doesn’t appear that people are reading chapter 1000, which it’s written right here,” Wells stated. “I’ve looked at this regulation for the last 15 years.”

In the second article he presented that night, Judkins stated they would be changing the size of dwellings from 500 square ft. to 190 square ft.

According to Judkins, the change is being made to fall in line with Legislative Document No. 2003, titled “An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Commission to Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions”. The article was passed April of last year, but will not go into effect until July 2025, Judkins added.

Judkins stated that the delay was put in place to allow towns to “get in line” with the change. The change will apply to dwellings and apartments as well, which are currently set at 350 square ft. according to Judkins.

“With this newer [bill] that’s coming through here,” Town Manager Perry Ellsworth stated, “the planning board felt that going right to the 190 ft. right now was the right thing to do.”

According to Ellsworth, the two articles that were presented at the meeting were preliminary readings and a final decision to include them as town warrant articles for the upcoming town meeting would be decided at the next meeting.

Wilton Select Board will meet again Tuesday, May 23, to make a final decision on these two items after more time to research all the details has been taken.

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