03/06/2013 - updated 03/20/2013 - The meeting has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28, 2013

Planning Board sets March 19 public hearing on draft updates to Subdivision Ordinance

At the direction of the Town Council and consistent with a recommendation from the Comprehensive Plan, the Planning Board has prepared a new Subdivision Ordinance for adoption. The board will hold a public hearing on the draft at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at Town Hall [directions]

The Subdivision Ordinance, which regulates most new development in Cape Elizabeth, was adopted in 1968. A few sections have been updated over the years, but the bulk of the ordinance is approximately 45 years old.

While a new Subdivision Ordinance is offered for consideration, the new ordinance contains few substantive changes from the current ordinance. The goals guiding the drafting of the new ordinance are to bring the current ordinance into compliance with State subdivision law and to improve organization and readability.

Some highlights of the new Subdivision Ordinance include:

  • Subdivision definition. State law was changed to require all municipalities to use the same subdivision definition as the state. The draft now incorporates the state definition.
  • Subdivision standards. State law includes standards of subdivision review. The Town of Cape Elizabeth has created its own standards of review. The state standards are located in the purpose statement of the Town Subdivision Ordinance. The new draft blends the state and Town standards into one standards section.
  • Organization. Many of the existing provisions in the ordinance remain, but have been moved around for a more logical organization. An example would be the requirements for phasing of a subdivision. Phasing requirements have been moved into their logical locations, such as requiring submission of a phasing plan as part of the Submission list and adding a standard to review the phasing plan in the standards section.
  • Custom and Practice. New language has been added to the Subdivision Ordinance that reflects standard practice. For example, the Performance Guarantee provisions have been expanded to describe the practice the Town currently uses to reduce and release guarantees.

One change that can be considered substantive is the treatment of major subdivision submission requirements. Both the existing and proposed ordinances require a major subdivision to undergo a two-step approval process. Submission of information is required for both preliminary and final subdivision approval. Changes have been made to the preliminary subdivision review submission list to allow the applicant to provide more conceptual level information for road construction, sewer and stormwater, proposed lot survey lines, and phasing. The final subdivision approval submission list requires all the detailed information.

This change is intended to benefit both the applicant and the Town. The applicant can provide a complete preliminary submission without the cost of full design. The Planning Board can influence and change the design with less resistance from the applicant because full design has not yet been completed. The two-step approval process suggests this approach, but the submission requirements require full design as part of preliminary approval.

A red-lined version of the old ordinance is available to show specific changes from old to new ordinance. The red-lined version does not show when the same language has been moved to a new location. For this reason, the Planning Board will consider a motion to recommend adopting the new ordinance as a replacement for the current Subdivision Ordinance.

Following the public hearing, the Planning Board may table the ordinance for more work or recommend it to the Town Council. The Town Council must also hold a public hearing before considering adoption. For more information, please contact Town Planner Maureen O'Meara, 207-799-0115.