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Planning Board Minutes 11/12/2013
I       Call to Order

Chairman Paul White called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

Present: Donna Cook, Jim Jansz, Phil Lowe, Joe McMahon, Tina Vanasse, Rick Viles, Paul White, Code Enforcement Officer Brandon Woolley, Recorder Maureen Scanlon.

Guests present: Jim Libby, Scott Anderson (Representing Verizon Wireless), Josh Loiselle, Brenda McGuinness, Fire Chief Ken Littlefield.

II      Correspondence

The following correspondences were distributed to the Planning Board members at the meeting;

  • The October 8, 2013 Planning Board Meeting Minutes.  
  • A copy of the schedule of “Planning Board Meeting Dates for 2014” which includes the submission deadline dates for each meeting.  
A copy of the schedule of 2014 meeting dates is attached to and does hereby become a part of the original set of these minutes.

III     Open to Public Questions – None

IV      Review of Minutes (October 8, 2013)

        Donna Cook made a motion to “table” the approval of the October 8, 2013 Planning Board Meeting Minutes until the December 10, 2013 meeting.  It was seconded by Phil Lowe.  Motion carried with all in favor.

V       Old Business  

  • Site Plan Review (Wireless Telecommunications Facility) –         (Property owned by William Allen) (Applicant is Verizon Wireless) –   Map 12, Lot 5C (Land Lot)
Scott Anderson distributed updated access road and storm water drainage plans to the Board Members.  (A copy of this documentation will be included in the Planning Board file for this project.)  He explained that the revised access roadway design is not such a straight shot up the hill.  It now snakes farther to the southeast corner of the lot and back all the way up to the northwest corner of the lot.  This makes the steepness of the grade significantly less than it was in the original design.  That is the only change from the originally submitted plan design.  The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) approval process for the Storm Water Permit has begun, however it is expected to take approximately four to six weeks from this point to complete the process.  Scott explained that the items that the DEP will be addressing are pretty straight forward and he is not anticipating any major issues with obtaining a permit from them.  He asked the Board to consider granting a “Conditional Approval” that the project can’t commence without the DEP Permit being obtained first.  Although he doesn’t expect any problems, if the DEP did want an issue addressed such as a change in the roadway design this would mean that Verizon would have to come back to this Board before they would be able to proceed.  Jim Jansz stated that he has a concern that in Section 1, item C of the Telecommunications (Towers) ordinance it states, “To permit: the construction of new towers only where all other reasonable opportunities have been exhausted.”  He would like to pursue “other alternatives” available before proceeding with the approval of this project.  There was discussion on some of the other alternatives that are available and why they would not be better options for improved cell phone coverage in this area.  Rick Viles commented on the fact that his company just switched over to Verizon and he has found that there is nowhere in Sebago that his phone doesn’t work, even at this town office building.  Scott Anderson explained the reasons that Rick’s newer phone may work better in this area when people with older phones may still find the coverage is insufficient to meet their needs.  He mentioned that there are other factors that also affect cell phone reception such as daily or seasonal weather conditions.  He stated that the Verizon Engineers do no suggest constructing a cellphone tower in a location where it is not needed.  They do not want to build a tower that doesn’t need to be built because it is very expensive and involves a long negotiation with land owners and any approval entities, such as Planning Boards.  Jim Jansz stated that the ordinance (Section 1, Item A) addresses the intention of minimizing the adverse impact of such facilities including visual impacts, environmental impacts, impacts to historically significant areas, health and safety impacts and property value impacts.  He reminded everyone that at the Public Hearing many of these concerns were brought up by residents and that these issues should be further researched.  There was discussion on this subject with Scott stating that Verizon appreciates the general standards established by the ordinance and reiterated that the tower is designed to be a the lowest possible height that will provide coverage in the area that is currently in the service “gap” which was verified by the third party study.  He also stated that there is no question that when somebody develops their land, that the neighbor might think poorly of that because it is always nicer to have undeveloped land surrounding you.  People think that this fact enhances their property value, and it possibly may.  But, there are two issues with this.  One is that there is no evidence that cell phone towers adversely impact property values even if they are in close proximity to it.  He pointed out that none of the abutters have come to any of these meetings and expressed a concern about it affecting their property values.  The people that have come forward are the ones that live some distance away, more than a mile.  Then, what you are really talking about is people trying to control other land uses far from their property because they want to continue to have things remain the same, even though the land that is being proposed for development is not theirs and they are not paying the taxes on it.  It is understood that some of them may have a nice view of the ridgeline, but Mr. Allen has a right to develop his property.  Verizon’s responsibility is to show that they are building the smallest and best sited project possible.  This is why it is not only at the lowest height possible but there also isn’t going to be any lighting on it.  Someone putting a “trophy home” at the top of the hill would be far more visually obtrusive to the landscape with the lights, especially at night.  Noise is not a factor, which it would be if it were a home.  Overall, there was quite a bit of discussion on the pros and cons of each of these concerns.  Brandon Woolley mentioned that last month the Comprehensive Plan was brought up during discussions on this matter.  He looked into the State Law Court ruling which states that a Comprehensive Plan is “visionary” and not “regulatory”.  Therefore, you can’t consider what is in a Comprehensive Plan in decision making by the Board.  They have also made the same ruling about General Provisions of Land Use Ordinances.  He explained that the court conceded that such general purposes if used to deny a permit would likely suffer the fate of being declared unconstitutionally vague.  So, stating that you want to preserve the rural character of something is not something that is quantitative.  You can’t assign a value to it, so you can’t use that as a decision making element in determining whether or not to accept something.  After discussion on the applicant’s request for a “Conditional Approval” is was decided that this would not be allowed and that the Planning Board wants to see the DEP approval first before granting their approval.

This item will be added to the December 10, 2013 meeting agenda.                                

  • CEO Updates
No updates at this time.

  • Goal Setting Items
  • Voting Matrix (finalizing process)
No discussion at this time.

  • Revision of Fire Protection Ordinance
Fire Chief Ken Littlefield submitted copies of the Fire Department’s proposed Fire Hydrant Ordinance to the Board members.  He stated that this is based on what other towns have done.  He spoke to the Board about the frustrations that the Fire Department has encountered in getting this ordinance implemented over the past several years.  He did mention that with Brandon Woolley’s assistance quite a few improvements have been made in assuring easements are in place in order for the town to properly maintain some of the fire ponds in town.  There was some discussion regarding what the Planning Board can and cannot do in order to assist the Fire Department in assuring fire protection concerns are addressed during the subdivision approval process and in perhaps “fine tuning” and implementing this proposed ordinance.  There was also some discussion on some of the items that still need to be addressed.  Ken stated that he is a firm believer in residential sprinklers and explained why, even though he realizes that this does add quite a bit to the cost of constructing a building.  He stated that for a subdivision with seven houses or more he would ask that either sprinklers or cisterns be required and that they be maintained by a Homeowner’s Association.  The Planning Board and the Code Enforcement Officer agree that the only people that benefit from sprinklers are the homeowners, whereas a fire pond benefits more members of the community.  They believe it would be better to have the town obtain the proper easements and then be responsible for the maintenance of fire ponds and the dry hydrants.  Phil Lowe suggested that perhaps two budget items be created.  One would be for the maintenance of the dry hydrants and the other one would be for installing new hydrants.  It was also suggested that the Planning Board impose impact fees for subdivision lots to off-set the cost of new installations.       

  • Review of Escrow Funds for “Outstanding” Subdivisions
No discussion at this time.

  • Bylaws Adoption
This item was “Tabled” until the next meeting.

VI      New Business – None

VII     Adjournment

Rick Viles made a motion to adjourn at 8:40 p.m.  It was seconded by Phil Lowe.    Motion carried with all in favor.

Respectfully Submitted,
Maureen F. Scanlon
Administrative Assistant/Deputy Clerk