I'd like to operate a beauty shop/bookkeeping business/massage therapy practice from my home. Do I need a permit?
Yes. You are proposing a home occupation, which is classified as a conditional use by the Zoning Ordinance. The Planning Office can provide you with a conditional use permit application. You will need to complete the application, provide a sketch plan of your property, submit a copy of your deed and/or written permission from your landlord to operate a home occupation from your apartment, and provide a cover letter explaining the details of your proposal. The City will notify abutters of your property about your proposal. If there are no concerns, or easily addressed concerns raised by your neighbors, then approval within two to three weeks of receipt of your application is possible.
I received a notice in the mail that property near me is proposed for development. What should I do?
The Planning Office will customarily mail notices of public hearing to abutting property owners for just about any application that is received. The Office will also mail notices if a new subdivision is proposed, as required by state law. A Notice of Public Hearing will include the date, time and place, as well as the development proposal that will be the subject of the Public Hearing. Prior to the meeting, you are welcome to review the materials that have been submitted at the Planning Office. They may include a survey, plans, soils information, stormwater drainage plans, erosion control measures, etc. You are welcome to submit a letter to the Planning Board (send it or drop it off to the Planning Office, or bring it the night of the meeting) that explains why you are concerned about the development that is proposed. And, of course, you will have an opportunity to speak at the public hearing in order to ask questions and voice concerns.
I just bought an older home in the downtown area. I plan to replace the siding and windows within the next couple of years, and may build a deck off the back. Do I need a building permit?
The answer is 'yes' for each of those projects. Depending on the location of the property, you may also be required to apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission. This City commission meets on an as-needed basis in order to review proposed changes to building exteriors and architectural features in the City's Historic Preservation District. There is no fee for the application, and generally the Commission meets within a week or two of an application being submitted.
I own a house next to the Saco River and would like to build a garage. I know I need a building permit, but is there any other review required prior to having my contractor get started?
Possibly, depending on how far back from the river your house is located. If within 500 feet of the Normal High Water Mark of the river (or if within 1,000 feet of the river and within the 100-year floodplain) the house is most likely in the Saco River Corridor, created by the Maine Legislature in 1973. If within the Corridor, a permit is required from the Saco River Corridor Commission. Contact information: the Commission office mailing address is P.O. Box 283, Cornish, Maine 04020-0283. Phone number is 625-8123. The SRCC web page can be found at http://www.srcc-maine.org.
We live in a residential neighborhood. My husband's parents are getting older, and we've talked about them moving in, but both of us would like to maintain some independence, with a separate entrance, kitchen, etc.
The City traditionally classified this as a "two family dwelling,'" which is either a permitted or a conditional use in all residential zoning districts in Saco. If a permitted use, then you will need a building permit for all electrical, plumbing and structural work involved with creating the second unit in your home. If the zoning district you live in regards two family dwellings as a conditional use, you must seek a conditional use permit through the Planning Office. Either visit City Hall or make an appointment to meet with the City Planner in order to receive a conditional use permit application and discuss what is needed to complete it. Review of the application is generally conducted by staff, and requires about two to three weeks to complete.
An "accessory apartment is a single family dwelling" is a separately defined term, and is now permitted most places in Saco. The zoning ordinance definition: "A small apartment with more than four hundred (400) but less than eight hundred (800) square feet of gross floor area that meets the standards of Section 727 and is located within and is accessory to an owner occupied single family dwelling. An accessory apartment shall not be considered to be a dwelling unit even if it allows fully independent living."
Please visit City Hall or make an appointment to meet with the Code Enforcement Officer to discuss this possibility. The zoning ordinance may be found in the code enforcement department: http://www.sacomaine.org/departments/codes/zoning.shtml
Saco is growing so fast. I see new houses being built whenever I drive around town. Can't the City do something about this?
Great location, low interest rates, improving transportation infrastructure - these and much more are reasons that Saco, York County and much of southern Maine have experienced a wave of residential growth over the past several years. Saco is responding on a number of levels:
- Zoning encourages subdivision and condominium construction close to City services. Costs to taxpayers are minimized when new homes are constructed in the developed area of Saco, where public sewer and water, trash pick-up, school bus and road maintenance services are readily available.
- Zoning encourages greater density in areas readily available to downtown, and discourages development in the City's rural areas by requiring larger lot sizes, minimizing new driveways on several arterial and connector roads, and requiring that public water and sewer be available for cluster subdivision development.
- An Open Space and Recreational Facilities impact fee was approved in 2001 in order to ensure that new development will bear a reasonable share of the cost of new or expanded facilities, such as parks or ball fields.
- Sewer impact fees have been in place for many years. Any new or expanded use that will connect to the City's sewer system is responsible for payment of this fee. More information is available by calling the Sewer Treatment Plant at 282-3564.
What is Saco's population?
Saco had 18,482 residents as of April 1, 2010, Census Day. This is up from 16,822 a decade earlier. In the last 10 years the City added more new residents and more new dwellings than any other municipality in York County. The City added 1,660 persons and 1,084 housing units from April 2000 to April 2010. That's a 10% increase in population and 15% increase in the number of dwelling units. The City retains its position as the state's eleventh largest city.
Several nearby large towns in Cumberland County grew more rapidly than Saco. Scarborough grew 11.5%; Windham, 14%; and Gorham, 15.8%; Cumberland County's older cities grew as follows: Westbrook, 8.4%; South Portland, 7.2%; and Portland, 3%. Nearby Biddeford grew by 2%; Kennebunk, 3%; while Old Orchard Beach lost 3%. Cumberland County's overall growth was 6%. York County's was 5.6%, and the state of Maine's, 4.2%.The Census found 8508 dwelling units in Saco.
The Census indicates that there are fewer young people in the City, both on an absolute basis and as a percentage. There are now 4,148 people under 18 years of age. There were 4,201 persons under 18 years 10 years ago. The percentage of people under 18 dropped from 25% to 22.4%.
I recently built a new house in a subdivision that is currently under development. Even though I'm paying taxes, the City is not picking up my trash or plowing my street. Why not?
The subdivision, including the street that you live on and all related infrastructure such as sewer and water lines, hydrants, stormwater drainage ponds, etc., are the property of the developer. Upon approval of a subdivision by the City, development begins with oversight provided by an engineering firm contracted with by the City, to ensure that streets, utilities, sidewalks and other improvements are constructed according to City specifications. In most cases, upon completion of the subdivision, the street and related infrastructure such as sidewalks, signs, streetlights, drainage structures and utilities are then presented to the City for acceptance. After review by staff, the Planning Board, and the City Council, the decision whether to accept or decline the offer is made by the Council.
The idea is that the construction of these facilities is the responsibility of the developer and should not be transferred to the taxpayers of the City, and that the improvements should be made to high standard to avoid transferring costs. Until acceptance is voted upon and approved by the Council, the subdivision and all associated improvements remain private property and are the responsibility of the developer. City services are not available to owners of homes in a subdivision until acceptance is complete, and the street has become City property.