Maine Revised Statutes

§438-A. Municipal authority; state oversight

With respect to all shoreland areas described in section 435, municipalities shall adopt zoning and land use control ordinances pursuant to existing enabling legislation, under home rule authority and in accordance with the following requirements. The deadline for municipalities to adopt a shoreland zoning ordinance meeting the minimum guidelines adopted by the Board of Environmental Protection is extended to July 1, 1992. [1991, c. 622, Pt. X, §12 (AMD).]

Notwithstanding other provisions of this article, the regulation of timber harvesting and timber harvesting activities in shoreland areas must be in accordance with section 438-B and rules adopted by the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry pursuant to Title 12, section 8867-B. [2005, c. 226, §2 (AMD); 2011, c. 657, Pt. W, §6 (REV).]

1. Land use guidelines.  In accordance with Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter II, the Board of Environmental Protection shall adopt, and from time to time shall update and amend, minimum guidelines for municipal zoning and land use controls that are designed to carry out the legislative purposes described in section 435 and the provisions of this article. These minimum guidelines must include provisions governing building and structure size, setback and location and establishment of resource protection, general development, limited residential, commercial fisheries and maritime activity zones and other zones. Within each zone, the board shall prescribe uses that may be allowed with or without conditions and shall establish criteria for the issuance of permits and nonconforming uses, land use standards and administrative and enforcement procedures. These guidelines must also include a requirement for a person issued a permit pursuant to this article in a great pond watershed to have a copy of the permit on site while work authorized by the permit is being conducted. The board shall comprehensively review and update its guidelines and shall reevaluate and update the guidelines at least once every 4 years.
A. Minimum guidelines adopted by the board under this subsection may not require the issuance of a municipal permit for the repair and maintenance of an existing road culvert or for the replacement of an existing road culvert, as long as the replacement culvert is:
(2) Not more than 25% longer than the culvert being replaced; and
(3) Not longer than 75 feet.
Ancillary culverting activities, including excavation and filling, are included in this exemption. A person repairing, replacing or maintaining an existing culvert under this paragraph shall ensure that erosion control measures are taken to prevent sedimentation of the water and that the crossing does not block fish passage in the water course. [1993, c. 315, §1 (AMD).]
[ 1993, c. 315, §1 (AMD) .]
1-A. Minimum guidelines; limitations.  The minimum guidelines adopted under subsection 1 may not require a municipality, in adopting an ordinance, to:
A. Treat an increase in hours or days of operation of a nonconforming use as an expansion of a nonconforming use; or [1991, c. 419, (NEW).]
B. Treat as a single lot, 2 or more contiguous lots, at least one of which is nonconforming, owned by the same person or persons on the effective date of the municipal ordinance and recorded in the registry of deeds if the lot is served by a public sewer or can accommodate a subsurface sewage disposal system in conformance with state subsurface wastewater disposal rules, and:
(1) Each lot contains at least 100 feet of shore frontage and at least 20,000 square feet of lot area; or
(2) Any lots that do not meet the frontage and lot size requirements of subparagraph (1) are reconfigured or combined so that each new lot contains at least 100 feet of shore frontage and 20,000 square feet of lot area.
For purposes of this paragraph the term "nonconforming" means that a lot does not meet the minimum standards for lot area and shore frontage required by municipal ordinances adopted pursuant to this article. [1991, c. 419, (NEW).]
[ 1991, c. 419, (NEW) .]
1-B. Notification to landowners.  This subsection governs notice to landowners whose property is being considered for placement in a resource protection zone.
A. In addition to the notice required by Title 30-A, section 4352, subsection 9, a municipality shall provide written notification to landowners whose property is being considered by the municipality for placement in a resource protection zone. Notification to landowners must be made by first-class mail to the last known addresses of the persons against whom property tax on each parcel is assessed. The municipal officers shall prepare and file with the municipal clerk a sworn, notarized certificate indicating those persons to whom notice was mailed and at what addresses, and when, by whom and from what location notice was mailed. This certificate constitutes prima facie evidence that notice was sent to those persons named in the certificate. The municipality must send notice not later than 14 days before it holds a public hearing on adoption or amendment of a zoning ordinance or map that places the landowners' property in the resource protection zone. Once a landowner's property has been placed in a resource protection zone, individual notice is not required to be sent to the landowner when the zoning ordinance or map is later amended in a way that does not affect the inclusion of the landowner's property in the resource protection zone. [2013, c. 320, §7 (AMD).]
B. In addition to the notice required by this Title or by rules adopted pursuant to this Title, the board shall provide written notification to landowners whose property is being considered by the board for placement in a resource protection zone. Notification to landowners must be made by first-class mail to the last known addresses of the persons against whom property tax on each parcel is assessed. The board shall prepare and file with the commissioner a sworn, notarized certificate indicating those persons to whom notice was mailed and at what addresses, and when, by whom and from what location notice was mailed. This certificate constitutes prima facie evidence that notice was sent to those persons named in the certificate. The board must send notice not later than 30 days before the close of the public comment period prior to formal consideration of placement of the property in a resource protection zone by the board. Upon request of the board, the municipality for which the ordinance is being adopted shall provide the board with the names and addresses of persons entitled to notice under this subsection. Notification and filing of a certificate by the department are deemed to be notification and filing by the board for purposes of this section. [1995, c. 542, §1 (NEW).]
C. Any action challenging the validity of an ordinance based on failure by the board or municipality to comply with this subsection must be brought in Superior Court within 30 days after adoption or amendment of the ordinance or map. The Superior Court may invalidate an amended ordinance or map if the appellant demonstrates that the appellant was entitled to receive notice under this subsection, that the municipality or board failed to send notice as required, that the appellant had no knowledge of the proposed adoption or amendment of the ordinance or map and that the appellant was materially prejudiced by that lack of knowledge. This paragraph does not alter the right of a person to challenge the validity of any ordinance or map based on the failure of a municipality to provide notice as required by Title 30-A, section 4352, subsection 9 or the failure of the board to provide notice as required by this Title. [1995, c. 542, §1 (NEW).]
[ 2013, c. 320, §7 (AMD) .]
2. Municipal ordinances.  In accordance with a schedule adopted by the board and acting in accordance with a local comprehensive plan, municipalities shall prepare and submit to the commissioner zoning and land use ordinances that are consistent with or are no less stringent than the minimum guidelines adopted by the board and, for coastal communities, that address the coastal management policies cited in section 1801. When a municipality determines that special local conditions within portions of the shoreland zone require a different set of standards from those in the minimum guidelines, the municipality shall document the special conditions and submit them, together with its proposed ordinance provisions, to the commissioner for review and approval.
Notwithstanding section 435, a municipality may limit to 75 feet the shoreland zone around a freshwater wetland that has not been rated by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as having moderate or high value provided that the municipality applies the requirements of this article regarding streams as defined under section 436-A to any outlet stream from any freshwater wetland.
[ 1993, c. 196, §3 (AMD) .]
3. Commissioner approval.  Municipal ordinances, amendments and any repeals of ordinances are not effective unless approved by the commissioner. In determining whether to approve municipal ordinances or amendments, the commissioner shall consider the legislative purposes described in section 435, the minimum guidelines and any special local conditions which, in the judgment of the commissioner, justify a departure from the requirements of the minimum guidelines in a manner not inconsistent with the legislative purposes described in section 435. Recognizing that the guidelines are intended as minimum standards, the commissioner shall approve a municipal ordinance that imposes more restrictive standards than those in the guidelines. If an ordinance or an amendment adopted by a municipality contains standards inconsistent with or less stringent than the minimum guidelines, the commissioner, after notice to the municipality, may approve the proposed ordinances or amendment with conditions imposing the minimum guidelines in place of the inconsistent or less stringent standard or standards. Those conditions are effective and binding within the municipality and must be administered and enforced by the municipality. If the commissioner fails to act on any proposed municipal ordinance or amendment within 45 days of the commissioner's receipt of the proposed ordinance or amendment, the ordinance or amendment is automatically approved. Any application for a shoreland zoning permit submitted to a municipality within the 45-day period is governed by the terms of the proposed ordinance or amendment if the ordinance or amendment is approved under this subsection. A municipality may appeal to the board a decision of the commissioner under this subsection.
[ 1991, c. 346, §4 (AMD) .]
4. Failure to adopt ordinances.  If the commissioner determines, after notice to a municipality, that the municipality has failed to adopt ordinances as required under this article or that an ordinance that the municipality has adopted does not satisfy the requirements and purposes under this article, and that the commissioner is unable to make the ordinance consistent with the minimum guidelines by the imposition of conditions, as set forth in subsection 3, then the commissioner shall request and the board may adopt, acting in accordance with Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter II, suitable ordinances, or suitable provisions of ordinances, on behalf of the municipality. Notwithstanding subsections 2 and 3, if the board determines that special water quality considerations on a great pond warrant more restrictive standards than those contained in the minimum guidelines, the board may adopt the additional standards for all municipalities outside the jurisdiction of the Maine Land Use Planning Commission, which abut those waters. Following adoption by the board, these ordinances or provisions are effective and binding within the municipality and must be administered and enforced by that municipality. The board may adopt modifications to ordinances adopted pursuant to this subsection. Preparation and notice of proposed modifications, prior to consideration by the board, may be initiated by the commissioner.
[ 1995, c. 493, §3 (AMD); 2011, c. 682, §38 (REV) .]
5. Exemptions.  Any areas within a municipality that are subject to nonmunicipal zoning and land use controls may be exempted from the operation of this section upon a finding by the commissioner that the purposes of this chapter have been accomplished by nonmunicipal measures.
[ 1989, c. 890, Pt. A, §40 (AFF); 1989, c. 890, Pt. B, §46 (AMD) .]
6. Variances. 
[ 1991, c. 346, §6 (RP) .]
6-A. Variances.  A copy of a request for a variance under an ordinance approved or imposed by the commissioner or board under this article must be forwarded by the municipality to the commissioner at least 20 days prior to action by the municipality. The material submitted must include the application and all supporting information provided by the applicant. The commissioner may comment when the commissioner determines that the municipal issuance of the variance would not be in compliance with the requirements of state law for a zoning variance or that the variance would undermine the purposes stated in section 435. These comments, if submitted by the commissioner prior to the action by the municipality, must be made part of the record and must be considered by the municipality prior to taking action on the variance request.
[ 2005, c. 440, §1 (NEW) .]
7. Exclusion of recreational boat storage buildings.  Notwithstanding subsection 3, the exclusion of recreational boat storage buildings from the definition of "functionally water-dependent uses" is deemed to be incorporated into each municipal shoreland zoning ordinance on the effective date of this subsection, regardless of any prior approval of the ordinance by the commissioner.
[ 1997, c. 726, §2 (NEW) .]
SECTION HISTORY
1987, c. 815, §§5,11 (NEW). 1989, c. 143, (AMD). 1989, c. 403, §7 (AMD). 1989, c. 890, §§A40,B44-46 (AMD). RR 1991, c. 2, §143 (COR). 1991, c. 46, §2 (AMD). 1991, c. 346, §§4-6 (AMD). 1991, c. 419, (AMD). 1991, c. 622, §X12 (AMD). 1991, c. 838, §23 (AMD). 1993, c. 196, §3 (AMD). 1993, c. 315, §1 (AMD). 1995, c. 493, §3 (AMD). 1995, c. 542, §1 (AMD). 1997, c. 726, §2 (AMD). 2003, c. 335, §4 (AMD). 2005, c. 226, §2 (AMD). 2005, c. 440, §1 (AMD). 2011, c. 657, Pt. W, §6 (REV). 2011, c. 682, §38 (REV). 2013, c. 320, §7 (AMD).

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