Meeting on the Growth Permit Cap for Chebeague Island 12/13/00

Purpose: The Long-Range Planning Committee was asked by the Town Council at its October 23 meeting to get opinions about the growth cap on Chebeague and convey these back to the Council.

Overview of the Town growth permit ordinance adopted last summer: It applies to new houses and not to repair or renovation of or to additions to existing houses.

- The total number of growth permits for the Town is 49 -- 44 for the mainland, 3 for Chebeague and 2 for    affordable housing built by a non-profit organization. No more than 22 permits can be issued for houses in    subdivisions on the mainland.

- Applications for any given year are accepted from July 1 on, first come,
first served.

- A growth Permit is issued to the applicant who then has 90 days to apply for a building permit. If no building   permit is issued, the growth permit expires at the and of the 90 days, and can be reissued by the Town to another   applicant.

- Applicants who do not get a permit in a given year are put on a waiting list and have first priority the next year.

The issue posed by the Town Council: Get public input on not whether or not the Town should have a building cap, but whether Chebeague should have three, and only three, permits allocated to it. The alternative is that Chebeague residents would get in line with all other residents of the Town for 44 or maybe 47 permits.

Background: When the growth cap was proposed, the members of the Long-Range Planning Committee supported it because it seemed to reflect the broad support on our planning survey for slowing the pace of growth. We also thought it would be useful for Chebeague to have 3 permits guaranteed to it. The number 3 is the average number of houses built on the Island each year. There has been a negative reaction to the 3-permit cap by a number of people, and the Town has a waiting list that goes out to 2005.

The Committee has taken the comments and criticisms seriously, especially the criticism that the cap contradicts the goal of the Committee's own plan that says we should encourage year-round, especially working families to live on the Island. Since the Town Council's October 23 workshop on the building cap we have worked to develop a proposal for an exemption to the cap for year-round working residents. We had hoped to bring this proposal before you tonight. However, the Town's attorney told us, this past week, that our first effort would be unconstitutional because it restricts the right of certain kinds of people to live on Chebeague. It may still be possible to construct an exemption that would pass legal muster, but we have not had time to pursue this yet.

The job tonight: Get comments on the growth cap as it applies to Chebeague and to convey them to the Town Council.


The following are notes taken from the meeting. There were about 35 who attended, including Steve Moriarty, President of the Cumberland Town Council. The meeting was run by Sam Ballard and Jim Phipps, co-chairs of the LRPC.Building Caps Meeting Notes 12/13/00

1 Could mainland permits be used by the island?
2 Permit limits were originated on the mainland to deal with the rising school population.
3 Is it unconstitutional to allow two permits to low income people?
Presumably this would apply to all such people? If these two could be used only on the island would this give us a total of five?
4 Survey respondents probably didn't think of the real consequences.
5 With building caps in place, paying property taxes becomes pointless.
6 If you don't use a permit when you are at the top the list do you go to the bottom of the list?
7 Impossible to plan ahead.
8 Goal is to keep island diversified.
9 Limiting permits will lessen supply bringing about an increase demand pushing taxes up.
10 Need shared vision for how to control growth on the island. Could decide that we need more than three. More might prove acceptable.
11 What about criteria at Small Brook?
12 A larger island population would increase costs, such as road maintenance, police etc.
13 Water supply could be at risk.
14 Permit requests issued recently may be a result of those who panicked.
15 Many requests came from people who already owned land. Need to encourage year-round residents perhaps by house size.
16 A build out scenario for the current growth pattern shows there is a potential for 587 houses total at building a rate of 3.9 houses per year measured over a 50 year period. There are currently 400 houses on the island. Three houses a year has been consistent for 20 years.
17 Better to space out and building than to have many houses all at once. Slow growth gives us time to solve other problems.
18 The building cap has created ⤜a permit monsterâ¤*.
19 Let permits be issued on a variable rate so that we have an average of 3 per but could vary over a short time scale.
20 Why not a minimum number of permits rather than a maximum, and a large minimum lot size.
21 Larger lots encourages more wealthy people.
22 Shore lots pretty much used up and need to save land for fisherman. Reserve space for medium and low income.
23 Increased population means more demands on town money.
24 House size is a big concern causing increased taxes.
25 Need affordable housing for island workmen
26 Permit primary houses not guest houses.
27 Housing values have already gone up because of permit limitations.
28 Survey said we wanted to be a rural - survey showed a strong preference for 1 to 3 houses per year L R P C is looking for ways to deal with this.
29 Survey might have been different if it were known before hand that a cap of 1 to 3 permits was likely to be mandated.
30 Unfair to pay taxes for generations and not then be able to allow children to build on this land.
31 Town needs to acquire land on the island to make it available for low income of people.
32 Cap makes it hard to plan finances.
33 Growth more of a mainland issue.
34 Could be a main land pool of permits that island draws from.
35 Be careful about categorizing people. Some large houses have been built with sweat equity.
36 Be careful about us vs them.
37 Don't want people to leave the island because of taxes.
38 How often can a cap be revised. Answer: There is no sunset provision; can be revised at any time.
39 Is it possible to raise the cap on the island with in the town of total.?
40 If growth slows island workmen will have fewer jobs.
41 Town permits should be for whole town including island.
42 Concern for water supply.
43 Are we part of the town or not - we should be treated as the same.
44 Should have another survey on this question.
45 Solve the problem of the ⤜panic listâ¤* Perhaps this is a one time thing.
46 Should we have a different categories for people asking for permits?
47 Should year-round residents or current landowners be given preference?
48 Should we look at the Nantucket like point system?
49 Do we have hardship waivers.
50 Salt water showing up in wells.
51 Should not have a cap, but rather educate people about septic tanks and aquifers.

The Long-range planning committee is supporting the cap based on a survey and what they perceive as the views of the majority of Chebeaguers who responded. I feel that this is very misleading because the question about whether people wanted a limit on building never went into the consequences of such an action. People who answered the survey didn't realize that by putting a cap on building would result in existing homes becoming more valuable, especially near the shore. It makes (overtaxed) land which people have held onto either for future family or investment useless and unsalable. The people of means will find a way to expand there existing properties if needed and or buy out existing homes at inflated rates creating higher taxes for all.

I have been paying taxes on a piece of land that I always thought that I or my family would be able to build on. If I apply now it would be 2007 before I would be able to build. I'm thinking now that I better get in line for a permit just in case we are in the position to build in a few years (Vika may wish to build her home on Chebeague in ten years). When you hear a storm is coming you run out to get the items which may become scarce.

Beverly Johnson

Notice in the December Calendar:

Controversy has arisen over the growth permit cap adopted by the Town Council this summer in chich Chebeeague is allocated three permits per year. Thirteen people have put their names on a Town waiting list, with the 13th in line for a permit in 2005. At its October 23 meeting, the Town Council asked the Chebeague Long-Range Planning Committee to have a meeting on the Island so that residents could boice their views about the cap.

The LRPC did not suggest the building cap to the Town Council; it was adopted largely because of rapid housing growth on the mainland. The LRPC supported the cap because it corresponded with the views of a majority of the Chebeaguers who responded to the planning survey sent out last fall. 537 people responded, including 173 or 64% of the 269 adult year-round residents of Chebeague. When people were asked how many houses they wanted built on Chebeague each year the answers were;

no new houses, 9%;
a limit of 1-3 new houses per year, 50%;
a limit of 4-6 houses, 10%;
and no limit on new houses built, 22%;
8% did not answer

Year-round residents were most likely (64%) to wnat no or only 1-3 houses; while 59% of summer residents and 43% of non-resident property owners shared their views. In addition the LRPC supported the cap because, while it does not prevent development from happening, it spreads it out over a somewhat longer period of time. It also gives the LRPC and the Town some breathing room to develop specific proposals for meeting other goals laid out in the plan such as making sure that development is not polluting the groundwater and insuring a supply of affordable housing for year-round families.


Come whether you are for or against the cap, or want it modified. We need to know EVERYONE'S views. If you can't come, you can send comments to the Long-Range Planning Committee, General Delivery, Chebeague Island, ME 04017

You can also email or