Cape Elizabeth Town Council establishes library, town center panels

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council has created new committees for the Thomas Memorial Library and town center planning.

The council on Monday also sent a proposed ordinance amendment for limited summer day camps to the Planning Board.

The library planning committee will be tasked with organizing an effort to address the aging and disjointed library, and planning for the building, its uses and its patrons for the next 25 years.

In addition to seeking public input, the committee will also consider proposals less costly than the nearly $8 million project that was defeated by voters last year, when they rejected a $6 million bond.

The proposed library bond would have built a new library to replace the current building due to failing conditions including mold, lack of space, code violations and accommodations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The committee will have five voting members: three from the council, one from the School Board and one library trustee.

The council had originally planned to give the committee a $25,000 budget, but decided to have the committee establish a budget to start and then allocate funding out of the general fund.

In October, the committee will make a “substantial progress report” and at that point the council will consider future directions and actions, Town Manager Mike McGovern said.

The library committee will also look at utilization of space for other library services and programs.

Although plans to develop the town center were created two decades ago, little progress has followed since zoning amendments were approved in 1995.

The new Town Center Committee will be tasked with reopening the town center discussion and developing a plan to support a more active, business- and pedestrian-friendly town center.

The committee will hold public forums and report back to the council within six months of its first meeting. Its recommendations should be complete by the end of the year.

The members will review the existing town center, including “land uses, lot and building vacancies, infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, storm water, sanitary sewer, etc),” according to the committee’s charge.

The committee will have nine members. The council will appoint five residents, including a town center business owner and a resident of the town center or an adjacent neighborhood. Two councilors will serve on the committee and the Planning Board and School Board will each appoint one of their members.

Much of the committee’s budget will be used to update the town’s storm-water management plan. Similar to the library committee’s budget, the town center committee will need to establish a budget and bring it before the council for approval.

Applications for the committees will be available on the town’s website. Interested individuals can also contact Town Clerk Debra Lane at 799-7665.

In other business Monday, the council sent the Planning Board a zoning ordinance to allow limited summer day camps in residential neighborhoods.

Councilor David Sherman said the change is needed because the camps, run by teenagers and adults to provide entertainment for kids in previous years, were not permitted last summer due to an ordinance interpretation by former Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Smith.

The amendment could include a definition that keeps the camps small and limited, and allows them as a permitted use.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.