OLD LYME — On Monday night, the Zoning Commission moved ahead with regulations for electric vehicle charging stations – a topic that’s been a boilerplate agenda item for more than three years.
The commission also briefly discussed the Halls Road District Overlay proposal and the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts zoning overlay application. Both were scheduled for public hearings at Monday’s meeting and both were postponed at the last minute and rescheduled for January 9.
The electric charging station regulations will require new developments with more than 30 parking spaces to provide two electric charging stations – one ADA-compliant and one regular. Previous developments that propose to demolish existing structures and redevelop the site will also be required to comply.
The regulation will apply to “any electric vehicle charging stations in the commercial, industrial, waterfront business, multi-family residence or Soundview Village District zones.”
Michael Barnes, an alternate on the Zoning Commission, reiterated his concerns from the Sept. 12 meeting that the statement of reason for the regulation was to “allow” electric charging stations in the town, but, he said, the language included a requirement that business owners pay for costly infrastructure.
“I just want to remind everybody that we are requiring this and I just wish we had the ability to just make it “if you should choose,’” he said.
The original number of parking spaces in the regulation was five for requiring electric charging stations, but the commission raised it to 30 in the final version.
“Well, I’m happy, it really does raise the threshold so I feel a little bit more comfortable about the small business person,” he told the commission.
Eric Knapp, land use coordinator for the town, said that the town’s Planning Commission provided a positive referral for the regulations and that they were consistent with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.
Concerning the Halls Road Overlay District proposal, which would add options for housing and other uses to the town’s commercial district, Knapp said that town attorney Matt Willis had provided comments that needed to be addressed.
“Attorney Willis came back with about five pages worth of comments to the draft regulations. Their counsel is still working on revising the text to address all of attorney Willis’s concerns,” Knapp told the commission. “Until we had final language, there was no point in opening the hearing.”
Knapp also commented that the Lyme Academy of Fine Art – which has applied for a change in zoning rules for nonprofits, allowing them to apply for new uses like retail, food service and dorm-like housing – had asked to continue its public hearing until January 9, but that time was running short on the application.
Any zoning application is given 35 days, plus an extension of 65 days – and in the case of Lyme Academy, January 9 would day 90 of the application, Knapp said.
Mary Jo Nosal, a new addition to the Zoning Commission, asked whether attorney Terrance Lomme, who represented Lyme Academy, had worked with the Historic District Commission to come to an agreement, as requested last month by Zoning chair Paul Orzel.
Knapp said that his understanding from Lomme is that he is trying to work with the Historic District Commission to reach a resolution.
“He tells me that he knows that his deadline is next month, or it’s over. So at this point, he’s got a month to get his act together and then come back to us with something because we’re out of time – it cannot be continued beyond next month.”