Proposed Ordinance to Amend the Land Use Code in the Golf Course Zoning District. 

posted May 16, 2024

The City of Bath will have a local referendum on the ballot on June 11, 2024, regarding a proposed ordinance change. The ballot question reads: Shall the proposed ordinance be adopted? BE IT ORDAINED That Article 9.02 of the Bath Land Use Code is amended by deleting from the table of uses for the Golf Course District Multi-Family Dwelling on Line 1.03 and Cluster Development on Line 1.4 as uses permitted with site plan approval and making such uses not permitted in the Golf Course District in accordance with the amended table of uses annexed.

On December 6, 2023, the City Clerk presented City Council with a citizens' petition seeking the proposed ordinance change. Following state statute and the City Charter, the City Council and Planning Board held public hearings on the proposed ordinance change. On January 17, 2024, the City Council did not enact the proposed ordinance change and sent the question to voters at the June election.


View the Sample Ballot

View the Zoning Map

View the Petition

  1. Yes Vote: "A 'Yes,' will remove any type of housing development as an option within the golf course zoning district of the Land Use Code.

  2. No Vote: "A 'No' will maintain the currently allowed uses in the golf course zoning district of the Land Use Code

Existing Conditions: 

The property is currently mostly developed as a golf course with associated restaurants and parking. The area that is not being used as a golf course is the area of the wetland and the area surrounding the wetland, which is subject to both a waterbody setback in accordance with 8.15,C, and it is by definition within the shoreland zone.


Looking Back: Excerpted from the 2009 Comprehensive Plan at page 5-26:

Golf Course Area 

This area is designed to maintain the golf course operation on the current Bath Country Club property. It may be appropriate in the future to expand the area if the operation grows. Other compatible accessory facilities and uses such as tennis courts, a restaurant and/or a meeting room, ski trails, and other passive-recreation activities will also be allowed. A year-round operation will be encouraged. Residential uses may also be associated at the golf course in the future. Such residential uses may be clustered, but the overall density must be similar to the Low-Density Residential Future Land Use Area.”


Looking Forward: The 2023 Comprehensive Plan has this to say in the Future Land Use Plan about Rural Areas: 

“Rural Areas are places to be protected and restricted from sprawling development.

Generally, growth in these areas is discouraged in order to preserve rural landscape, scenic views, and natural resources. These are places where there is likely to be a limited amount of change or no change at all in the future. Bath has two rural areas – one in the north part of Bath and one in the south. Bath’s rural areas do not have public water or sewer, and contain conservation areas, large blocks of undeveloped land, and habitat that borders adjacent habitat blocks in neighboring towns. These areas are the majority of Bath’s forested and agricultural land that provide passive recreation, working/productive

landscapes, and play a large role in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration.

Public improvements in this area should ensure that these residents also have safe

routes to walk or bike to other parts of Bath, including through an increased network of

trails. The City should work to obtain more conservation easements and permanently

preserved land as development pressure increases.”


Existing Regulations


District Information, Article 8:

Golf Course (GC) District:

The purpose of the Golf Course District in Article 8, at Land Use Code (LUC) 8.15 states; “This district is designed to maintain the Bath Country Club Golf Course operation. It will protect the golf course from incompatible neighboring land uses and protect the surrounding Low-density Residential District from encroachment by incompatible uses at the golf course. This district allows the golf course to expand and allows accessory facilities at the golf course.” 


Definitions, Article 2: 

Dwelling, Multi-family: “Dwelling, Multi-family. A building containing 3 or more dwelling units designed for residential use and occupancy by 3 or more families living independently of one another, with the number of families not exceeding the number of dwelling units.” 


Performance Standards for Specific Land Uses, Article 11: 

Cluster Development:

The purpose of [CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT] provisions is to encourage the preservation of the rural character of the Rural Residential District by preserving undeveloped land, including farmland, forestland, and other undeveloped lands, and to allow innovative development layout in all zoning districts. This is accomplished by allowing an innovative type of development that permits homes to be built on lots that are smaller than normally allowed, but requires undeveloped land to be preserved. In a cluster development, streets and utility lines are usually shorter, thus allowing development at a lower initial construction cost and lower future maintenance costs. (Land Use Code, at Article 11, 11.06)


The cluster development standards in 11.06, 5. State that; “The total area of undeveloped land within the development must equal or exceed the sum of the areas by which any building lots are reduced below the minimum lot area normally required in the district in which the development is located.” That means that if the GC land was developed as a cluster subdivision, for each lot developed under the cluster provisions with a 20,000 sf minimum lot area, that would normally require 60,000 sf; 40,000 sf of undeveloped land area must be included in the development. For context, 1 acre is 43,560 sf. 


USES, Article 9:

The Use Table in Article 9 indicates that multifamily and cluster developments are allowed residential types in the GC District. Other uses allowed in the GC District include restaurants, mobile food vending, hotel-type businesses, community gardens, small-scale utility facilities, Wireless Communication Facilities, City parks, temporary uses, and a variety of recreational uses. 


The cluster development standards in 11.06 include buffering standard, D. “That portion of the cluster development that abuts a public street not in the cluster development and along the exterior boundaries of the cluster development must be designed as a continuous landscaped buffer area not less than 50 feet wide.” 


Subdivision Review: 

If three or more lots or units are created within a 5-year period (as would occur with multifamily development or cluster development), Subdivision review is required. In addition to the State of Maine Subdivision Review Standards, the City of Bath has its own Subdivision Review process at Article 13 of the Land Use Code. The Planning Board is the review authority for Bath subdivisions. 


Development Review:

For a project involving multi-family development, or cluster subdivision, either or both of Subdivision and Site Plan Review and approval by the Planning Board would be required prior to an applicant being allowed to have a building permit. 


An applicant for a large housing project would hold a pre-application meeting first with staff, and then with the planning board, and then submit an application for review. Staff, including department heads, would review the application and draft findings for the planning board to review. In order for the application to be approved, the applicant must provide information to prove the proposed project would meet the applicable standards. 


More information about project review can be found in the Site Plan and Subdivision sections of the Land Use Code