Ordinance Committee to consider Zoning Ordinance amendments for artists working from home

The Town has received a request to consider amending the Zoning Ordinance from Cape Elizabeth resident, Stefan Rurak.  Rurak is requesting amendments which would allow artists living within the RA District, the ability to work from home and derive income from their artwork. Rurak, who is an artist, discovered that the current Zoning Ordinance prohibits him from operating a studio from his property.

The Town Council reviewed the request during the January 9, 2023 meeting.  Town Manager Matthew Sturgis, who met with Rurak earlier, proposed that the council consider referring the matter to the Ordinance Committee with a request to amend Sec. 19-10-3 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow cottage industry manufacturing in the RA District.  Sturgis said that he is “Trying to find a better definition [than cottage industry manufacturing] that might work for this zoning area; perhaps flexibility is needed.”  Rurak, who spoke during public comment, said that he wants to create a new definition “that is not as aggressive as cottage industry.”  Additionally, Rurak said that his artwork would be “created on my property, but not sold on site.”

Councilor Penny Jordan, who is Chair of the Ordinance Committee, asked Sturgis if the intention of the referral is to, “look at this more holistically” and “look at people who work from home or do work in their garage?”  Sturgis replied that Jordan was correct and said, “It may be an appropriate time to be able to do that.”  “I don’t want the Ordinance Committee to overstep its charge from the council; I like that it is broad,” Jordan added.  Councilor Nicole Boucher said, “I am glad that this gap has been discovered,” and encouraged the Ordinance Committee to get citizen feedback to see what other gaps there are beyond the arts.

The council voted unanimously in favor of referring potential Zoning Ordinance amendments to the Ordinance Committee.

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