Hope to discuss metallic mining, housing, cannabis and solar energy land use amendments
HOPE — The Planning Board in Hope has several weighty topics to consider Tuesday evening, Dec. 5, when it convenes for a regularly scheduled meeting at the Hope Town Office.
Business includes review of a land use amendment to regulate metallic mining, new municipal rules for cannabis cultivation and testing, as well as cannabis medical dispensaries, guidelines for solar energy facilities, and discussion about crafting land use amendments to increase housing in conformance with state statute.
The industrial metallic mining amendment is straightforward: No industrial metallic mining in any of the town’s three zoning districts, which are defined as Rural Residential, Hope Corner and South Hope Village. (See Hope’s Zoning map here.)
The focus on metallic mining comes on recent municipal actions taken in response to mining interests made public. Exiro Minerals Corp, a mineral exploration company based in Canada, first introduced itself in Union and Warren.
Union voters responded with enacting a 180-day moratorium on metallic mining, which it is considering renewing at a Dec. 5 meeting. Likewise, Hope responded with a moratorium and crafted the language that is coming before the Planning Board this evening. The meeting will not be streamed live nor televised.
Hope’s drafted amendment adds a definition of metallic mining, “The exploration for or extraction of metallic minerals, by a person or persons acting in concert, which occupies or disturbs an aggregate land area of one acre or more, regardless of the number of exploration or extraction sources or sites used.”
Industrial metallic mining does not, however, “include (i) non-commercial mineral exploration by means of test boring, test drilling, hand sampling, or digging of test pits which disturbs a land area of less than one acre; or (ii) the excavation, processing, or quarrying of sand, fill, gravel, clay, topsoil, peat, silt, or rock not associated with metallic mineral mining.
Mineral products processing and storage not associated with industrial metallic mineral mining would be allowed in the rural residential area.
HousingHope will also consider this evening in discussion with municipal attorney Bill Kelly measures to amend the land use ordinance to encourage increased housing.
This follows from the 2021 Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Commission To Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions, which required municipalities to ensure ordinances and regulations are designed to further the purposes of the federal Fair Housing Act and the Maine Human Rights Act.
As well, the Act stipulated that municipalities may also establish and enforce short- term rental regulations to achieve the state housing production goals.
The law (Chapter 672) aims to increase affordable housing in Maine by:establishing state-wide and regional housing production goals and the municipal role in achieving those goals;imposing density and other requirements for affordable housing developments that preempt inconsistent municipal regulations;requiring municipalities to allow up to two, three, or four dwelling units on each lot where housing is allowed, depending on the location of the lot and whether it contains an existing dwelling unit; andrequiring municipalities to allow an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on the same lot as a single-family dwelling unit in any area where housing is permitted and to comply with certain requirements pertaining to ADUs.
Hope will review and discuss proposed land use amendments concerning Cannabis Cultivation, Manufacturing, and Testing Facilities and Medical Cannabis Dispensaries:
The proposed amendments establish town rules for a variety of operations, and adds definitions. It is a lengthy amendment, and proposes prohibiting Retail Cannabis stores and stipulates: No person or organization shall develop or operate a business within this municipality that engages in the sale of a cannabis product to consumers, as defined by 28-B M.R.S. §102.
Additionally, Retail Cannabis Social Clubs are prohibited in the Town of Hope.
It does allow for two facilities for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and testing.
Medical cannabis is a different story, and the proposed amendments rewrite existing ordinance. They outline rules for for Registered Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.
“A registered medical cannabis dispensary may not be located within 500 feet of the property line of a preexisting public or private school; preexisting church, synagogue, or other house of religious worship; a lot principally being used for one, two or multi-family residential purposes; a preexisting athletic field, park, playground or recreational facility; any preexisting juvenile or adult halfway house, correctional facility, substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment center; and/or a preexisting licensed child care facility.”
Solar Energy Facilities
Proposed amendments to the land use ordinance governing solar energy production likewise are changes to existing municipal rules. They are to regulate and control solar energy facilities in Hope.
If approved, medium and large solar energy facilities would be allowed in all three district with planning board approval.
Roof Mounted Solar Energy Facilities and Small Ground Mounted Solar Energy Facilities on residential property would be allowed in all districts with code enforcement office approval, and with input from the Hope Fire Chief.