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Cumberland council amends, approves Comp Plan

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Cumberland council amends, approves Comp Plan

CUMBERLAND — The Town Council on Monday unanimously approved a new Comprehensive Plan.

Councilors lauded the three years of work that the 2009 Comprehensive Plan Committee, Town Planner Carla Nixon and others put into the document. But they also made several amendments to reflect objectives the town has already accomplished since the plan was first drafted.

One change eliminated a recommendation to the Town Council to create a town center plan, since the town has already accomplished that, Councilor Steve Moriarty said. He suggested the language instead call for the town to take action to implement the recommendations of the Town Center Advisory Committee.

Additional draft language called for the town to "consider creating a small town center where mixed uses such as retail, commercial and residential can coexist." Moriarty said that has largely been done, and he suggested language that called for encouragement of development of the town-owned Doane Property "within the terms and conditions of the Village Mixed Use Zone."

The Town Council also approved two Moriarty proposals to eliminate language regarding crosswalks that do not connect to sidewalks on the other side of the road, and installation of appropriate lighting at crosswalks.

"I counted four crosswalks in front of the (Mabel I.) Wilson School. On one side there's a sidewalk, on the other side of the road there aren't any. Why in the world would you remove those crosswalks?," Moriarty said, asking the same question of other areas in town.

He also said lighting at crosswalks conflicted with a point in the plan about avoiding excessive use of electricity.

"I really don't see the need for illumination of the crosswalks," he said, "but keeping them, I think, is important."

Nixon pointed out that that goal means to avoid situations in which a sidewalk has a crosswalk that doesn't connect on the other side of the street, saying that such a situation can create a safety hazard.

"We don't want to remove crosswalks or sidewalks; we're all about those being good things," Nixon said. "It's just a matter of tweaking them to make sure they're in the safest location."

Town Manager Bill Shane called for the language to be modified, noting that the policy of not allowing a crosswalk without a sidewalk connection "just won't hold" with residents, adding that there are many crosswalks in town that just lead to shoulders. He pointed out that the intent of the policy was not to remove sidewalks, but rather to place them in the best locations.

The language was instead removed. Moriarty said "the town has the inherent authority to paint crosswalks without any permission from the Comprehensive Plan."

The Planning Board held a two-night public hearing on the plan last month, ultimately voting to send it to the Town Council "with enthusiastic recommendation."

The plan can be viewed online at cumberlandmaine.com.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.