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Yarmouth councilors to discuss road improvements, sidewalk cafes, excise tax

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Yarmouth councilors to discuss road improvements, sidewalk cafes, excise tax

YARMOUTH — The Town Council will hold three public hearings Thursday, Oct. 1, to discuss sidewalk cafes, the excise tax referendum and a plan to build Route 1 roundabouts at the intersections of Forest Falls Road, Hannaford and East Main Street.

According to Town Manager Nat Tupper, adding sidewalk cafes could create a sense of vibrancy in Yarmouth.

"This amendment would allow businesses to place a few chairs outside for customers to sit and enjoy," he said. "With the understanding that the sidewalks will be kept clear and free of trash, this will give more life to the village."

Tupper said the Planning Board has endorsed the amendment, and the council supports creating a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly town.

Councilors are also expected to hold a public hearing and vote on a resolution to oppose the vehicle excise tax referendum. Tupper said the referendum to revoke the tax could cost the town at least $600,000. He said he did not factor in the exemptions for hybrid or alternative energy vehicles that have a three-year exemption.

To make up for the loss of revenue, Tupper said the town would have to add 43 cents per $1,000 to the tax rate, which would raise taxes 2.2 percent. He said the excise tax revenue is used for road maintenance and repairs.

Tupper's excise tax presentation can be found on the town Web site, and he will present it to the School Committee at its meeting Thursday, Oct. 8.

The council will also vote to approve and adopt the Phase II recommendations of the Gateways Committee and Planning Board to replace traffic lights on Route 1with roundabouts. The Gateways Committee submitted the recommendation for improvements from East Main Street to Main Street to the Planning Board in July, and the Planning Board unanimously supported their work at a meeting in August. The board made three additional suggestions for the Gateways Committee to consider.

They want the Gateways Committee to continue to work to integrate Route 1 into the local road network, and add a few more pedestrian crosswalks and pathways. The Planning Board also encouraged street trees to be placed no more than 40 feet apart to offer protection from moving vehicles, offer shade, and as a method to calm traffic speeds. In addition to street trees, the board recommended plantings be salt-tolerant, non-invasive and appropriate for the areas specified.

The estimated cost of the project is nearly $5 million.

The Gateways Committee is expected to begin work on Phase III of the Route 1 improvement project this winter.

The council's next meeting is Thursday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Log Cabin on Main Street.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net