BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved an increase in parking fines for the first time since 2009.

The panel also approved a contract rezoning amendment to allow a single building to be constructed on State Road to house a brewery, laundry center and gym.

In addition, councilors unanimously reappointed Mari Eosco as chairwoman and the purchase of a loader for the Public Works Department. 

Police and the city’s Transportation Committee recommended the new fine structure, which received preliminary council approval Nov. 7.

Police Chief Mike Field, in an October council memo, said fines for certain violations were too low to deter violators.

He called for doubling fines in no-parking and overtime zones to $30; more than doubling the fine for parking within 10 feet of a driveway, from $10 to $25; a $5 increase to $40 for parking within 10 feet of a fire hydrant, and doubling the fine to $30 for parking in a bus zone.

The amended ordinance incorporates those increases. There are no changes within Bath’s downtown business district.

In comparision, all fines are $30 in Freeport and $25 in Brunswick. In Portland they are comparable to the fee increases in Bath, according to Field.

“It might seem like a large increase, but parking concerns, especially in the south end, are constant,” the chief told the council Wednesday. “These fines hopefully will deter illegal parking with more of a financial inconvenience. By no means (are they) a revenue maker … we’re actually hopeful that we’ll be writing less tickets down there.”

The city had issued about 2,400 tickets in the south end since January, Traffic Safety Officer Ryan Kaake said a month ago. Another 500-600 had been issued in that time in the business district, but fines in that area are already comparable with surrounding communities, Kaake noted.

The council granted initial approval to a contract zoning amendment for a vacant lot at 8 State Road to allow Mark Sewall of Pine Tree Engineering to construct a 9,200-square-foot building that would include a nearly 3,400-square-foot brewery and tasting room. An 1,800-square-foot self-service laundry and a 4,100-square-foot gym would also be on the site. 

Sewall had originally planned to erect two structures: a 3,400-square-foot brewery and tasting room, and a 5,300-square-foot building containing a gym and laundry center.

One structure ultimately made more sense to Sewall than two, Planning Director Ben Averill told the council Wednesday.

That panel approved the initial contract rezoning agreement in September, and the Planning Board on Nov. 6 recommended the amendment.

In return for the contract rezoning, the developer’s conditions of approval include building a sidewalk along the property to tie in with anticipated future development, installing additional lighting along the property’s front, and putting in a catch basin to help manage stormwater.

Councilors also unanimously backed spending nearly $217,000 on a 2019 John Deere loader for the city’s Public Works Department. The vehicle, which comes with fork, plow and bucket attachments, replaces a 1989 model. The city budgeted funds for the purchase in its current fiscal 2019 spending plan.

The council at the start of Wednesday’s meeting unanimously appointed Eosco its chairwoman for the fifth consecutive year. First elected to the council in 2007, she became the panel’s first-ever chairwoman in 2013.

Councilor Sean Paulhus was re-appointed vice chairman.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Bath City Solicitor Roger Therriault, left, swears in re-elected Councilors Sean Paulhus, Terry Nordmann and Bernie Wyman on Wednesday, Dec. 5.