[HISTORY: Adopted by the Planning Board of the Town of South Berwick 1-17-1975; amended in its entirety 12-16-2008. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The decisions of the Planning Board (hereafter referred to as the "Board") on applications will be based on conformance with applicable legal standards, federal, state, and local laws and ordinances, and the evidence and argument submitted into the record of the meetings, whether in written, oral, or exhibit form. The Board may also rely on the knowledge, experience, and observations of its members, and matters of common knowledge.
These rules apply to the Board's conduct for the consideration and action on:
Comprehensive Plan adoption and amendment public hearings;
Proposed zoning amendment public hearings;
Subdivision applications (conceptual, preliminary, and/or final reviews);
Site plan review applications (conceptual and/or final reviews);
Shoreland zoning permit applications (conceptual and/or final reviews);
Other development plans as required by the ordinance;
All public hearings; and
Any combination of the above.
These rules will guide the Board's conduct of all other matters, as appropriate.
This Board adopts Robert's Rules of Order and the Town Administrative Code insofar as they are not superseded by this document.
A Chairman shall be elected annually in the month of July by a majority vote of the Board. Said Chairman shall serve for one year and shall be eligible for reelection. He/She shall preside over meetings and hearings, appoint such committees as directed by the Board and, with the authorization of the Board, shall affix his/her signature in the name of the Board.
A Vice Chairman shall be elected annually in the month of July by a majority vote of the Board. Said Vice Chairman shall serve for a one-year term and shall be eligible for reelection. Said Vice Chairman shall preside in the absence of the Chairman and shall have full power of the Chairman on matters which come before the Board during the absence of the Chairman.
A Secretary shall be elected annually in the month of July by a majority vote of the Board. Said Secretary shall serve for one year and shall be eligible for reelection. In the absence of staff, he/she shall maintain a record of all meetings, transactions and findings of the Board and perform such other duties as the Board may direct by resolution.
Regular meetings shall be held the first and third Wednesday of each month. Other meetings may be held on call of the Chairman, provided that notice is given to each member at least seven calendar days prior to the time of such meetings.
Regular meetings of the Board are posted in a Board-approved schedule available on the Town of South Berwick’s website. Regular meetings are the first and third Wednesday of every month, with exceptions as indicated on the posted schedule.
Regular meetings start at 7:00 p.m. No new agenda items will begin after 9:30 p.m. except for scheduled workshops and items pertaining to local ordinances, Board operations, and long-range planning. The Board may vote to suspend the rules by four votes in the affirmative.
At 9:00 p.m., the Board shall, if necessary, temporarily suspend consideration of the agenda item currently under review in order to determine whether remaining agenda items will likely be reached before 9:30 p.m. The Board shall at that time notify those in attendance for those agenda items which will not be reached that the items will be postponed until the next regularly scheduled meeting or at another date and time determined by the Board. Any item postponed under the provisions of this rule shall be considered as unfinished business at the next regularly scheduled meeting or at the meeting date specified by the Board.
When a member is unable to act because of interest, physical incapacity, absence or any other reason satisfactory to the Chairman, the Chairman shall designate an alternate member to act in his/her stead.
An alternate member may attend all meetings of the Board and participate in its proceedings, but may vote only when he/she has been designated by the Chairman to act as a member.
Any questions of whether a member shall be disqualified from voting on a particular matter shall be decided by a majority vote of the members, excluding the member being challenged.
No meeting of the Board shall be held without a quorum, consisting of three members.
Records of resolutions, transactions, correspondence, findings and determinations shall be deemed public and may be inspected at reasonable times.
Chairman. The Chairman shall preside over all meetings. In the absence of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman shall preside.
A simple majority of the members present shall constitute a vote. However, when only three Board members are present, three affirmative votes are required to approve any motion.
Workshops. The purpose of workshops is to discuss the Comprehensive Plan, Land Development Regulations (Zoning Ordinance), Subdivision Regulations, and overall development review policies and procedures. Since the purpose of workshops is for Board discussion, input from the general public is permitted only at the discretion of the Chairman.
Special meetings may be called by the Chairman or a majority of the Board.
Notice of special meetings shall be served in person or to the residence of each Board member at least 48 hours prior to such a meeting.
Whenever possible, notice of a special meeting shall be announced at a prior meeting of the Board.
Notification shall be provided to local representatives of the media at the same time notification is provided to Board members.
Site walks may be scheduled at the discretion of the Board.
The purpose of a site walk is for collecting information related to the physical factors of a site under consideration by the Board.
The Board shall not make decisions during a site walk.
Members of the public may attend site walks, but are not permitted to provide input or to ask questions unless allowed by the Chairman. Such comments and questions shall only be provided through the Chairman.
The applicant and/or its agent are expected to attend a site walk. In the event that the applicant and/or its agent fails to appear at a scheduled site walk, the Board may postpone said site walk until another time, to be determined by the Chairman.
Guidelines for the public at Board meetings and public hearings.
General (notice to be posted for the general public).
Decisions made by the Board are "fact driven" based upon testimony and material.
Attendance and participation by the public is valued at all meetings and hearings.
At a public hearing, following an introduction by the Chairman or other appropriate person, generally describing the subject of the hearing, a person may speak as the Chairman calls upon him/her.
State name and address for the record.
Address only the item before the Board at a public hearing.
Direct all comments and questions through the Chairman.
Submit any detailed data, reports, or statements in writing seven days in advance.
Present a position as precisely and factually as possible. Material should not be read but summarized.
Time limits may be imposed by the Chairman in order to allow as many people as possible to participate.
Persons speaking on behalf of an organization (i.e., committee, commission, neighborhood group) must state when the group authorized them to speak on its behalf. Individuals and representatives of organizations with comparable positions are encouraged to be brief and not duplicate comments.
It shall be the discretion of the Chairman to determine if a three-day period will be held open for comments following a public hearing.
Please give courteous attention to other speakers regardless of their views. Do not applaud or indicate pleasure or displeasure with anyone's remarks. Anyone being disruptive may be asked to leave by the Chairman.
Reconsideration of applications. Any application finally acted upon and not thereafter reconsidered shall not again be considered for a period of one year succeeding the Board's final action on the original application if the Board determines it to be in the same or substantially the same form.
Signatures of plans, findings of fact, and minutes.
Scope of rule. The Board may act without a public hearing to adopt any number of the following items consolidated for its consideration into a consent agenda:
To approve minutes of meetings; and
To approve of the release/reduction of performance guarantees so long as said release is supported by planning staff and is unopposed by any persons; and
To determine whether proposed subdivision applications are either major or minor subdivisions; and
To approve, with or without conditions, an amendment to a previously approved application if the proposed amendment and any conditions to it are supported by planning staff and are unopposed by any persons; and
To adopt findings of fact or agree to sign Mylars related to an application that has been previously approved by the Board.
There will be no public testimony and no debate or discussion by any member of the Board regarding any item on the consent agenda. A member of the Board may seek clarification regarding a consent agenda item from the planning staff.
The Board shall act on the items on the consent agenda upon a single motion for approval supported by a vote in the affirmative by a majority of the members of the Board present and voting, provided that Board members may not vote on an item if they did not participate in, or review the record of, the underlying Board action.
The vote to adopt a motion to approve the consent agenda constitutes the approval and adoption of each item included just as if it had been acted upon individually. If any consent agenda is not approved by the Board, each item included on it is deemed severed and must be considered separately as items under old business.
Abstention from certain items. A Board member may note his/her abstention on a particular item or items included on the consent agenda, while still voting on the consent agenda itself. The abstaining member should state on the record his or her reason for abstaining (including because the member was absent during the public hearing when the Board considered or voted on the item). A Board member's abstention under this rule does not require severance of the item for separate consideration unless the number of members abstaining results in the absence of a quorum.
Removal of items from consent agenda for hearing.
An item proposed for action by consent agenda may be removed from that agenda at the request of any member of the Board.
Prior to taking up a motion for approval of any consent agenda, the Chairman will entertain the request by any member of the Board to sever an item from consideration in connection with that agenda.
Upon a request, the item shall be removed from the consent agenda, and the Board may act on the matter under old business.
Conflict of interest.
To preserve public confidence in the integrity of the Board and the Town's governmental process, each Board member shall have the duty to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. A Board member, therefore, shall ask to be excused from participation in any matter before the Board in which the member's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including, but not limited to, instances where the Board member is [Maine Statutory Conflict of Interest (Title 30-A, Section 2605)]:
An "officer, director, partner, associate, employee or stockholder of a private corporation, business or other economic entity" which is making the application to the Board; and
Is "directly or indirectly the owner of at least 10% of the stock of the private corporation or owns at least a ten-percent interest in the business or other economic entity"; or
The Board member is representative of a party to a matter before the Board.
If excused from participation in a matter, a Board member may not sit with the Board during its consideration of the matter.
In no instance shall a Board member be excused from deliberations and voting on an item or issue merely due to his/her unwillingness to vote on the issue at hand when no conflict of interest exists.
Ex parte (outside) communications. Members of the Board shall not discuss applications with any involved party (applicant, property owner, developer, neighbor, opponent, supporter, interested citizen, etc.) except at Board meetings. This is a legal requirement to ensure the Board members remain neutral until all information is presented, to ensure that all Board members receive the same input from all interested parties, and to ensure that all information presented to the Board is subject to cross examination by people with different opinions.
These bylaws may be amended by majority vote of the members, provided that such amendment is read at two successive regular meetings.
The Board shall perform such duties and exercise such powers as are provided by ordinances of the Town of South Berwick, the laws of the State of Maine and laws and regulations of the federal government.
The Board may obtain goods and services necessary to its proper functions within the limits of appropriations made for the purpose.