Cape planners: Town should keep 1 of 4 'paper' streets

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Planning Board on Tuesday recommended that the town retain Thompson Road as a paper street.

The decision came after the Town Council on April 6 asked the board to make recommendations regarding the paper street public engagement process.

Paper streets are roads that were laid out in subdivisions, but never constructed or accepted by the town as public ways. They are being discussed because in two years the town must decide which ones will remain under its oversight.

Cape Elizabeth has 46 paper streets, which have been categorized in a town inventory and report. The report, which describes the location and current use of each paper street, suggests the town no longer keep the rights to four of the roads:

• Hazelwood, off Lindenwood Road in the Oakhurst neighborhood.

• Thompson Road, off Shore Road north of Beach Bluff Terrace.

• Allen Road, off Mitchell Road between Belfield and Stonegate roads.

• And a 200-foot, unnamed road off Pine Ridge Road in the Broad Cove subdivision.

Planning Board members said they think the town should retain Thompson Road because of the number of residents who abut the road and the potential for development.

“If there are lots back there that we anticipate will be developed, wouldn’t it be better from a planning perspective to retain (Thompson Road) and have all those lots access there, instead of doing double access from Beach Bluff Terrace,” Elaine Falender said.

A resident said she thinks the town should keep the rights to all the paper streets.

“I think looking at the big picture in the long term, it’s very important that we retain these paper streets on behalf of all the community,” Sue Murray Guerette said. “I hope we keep these paper streets available for generations to come.”

In 1997 the town had its rights over paper streets extended for 20 years. With a re-evaluation of the roads coming in 2017, councilors have decided to consult residents before making any decisions.

In April, Town Manager Michael McGovern said councilors will be going into neighborhoods like Shore Acres, Cottage Woods, and Delano Park. The Planning Board said it’s not sure when the public engagement process will begin. 

Once that is complete, the council will conduct a formal public hearing and vote on the issue. 

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.