Cumberland council delays action on land gift, removal of stop sign

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council on Monday unanimously tabled action on removal of a stop sign at the intersection of Hemlock Drive and Prince Street, as well as the gift of 4.1 acres near Rines Forest.

The panel will take up both items again Monday, June 25.

Two stop signs sit 90 degrees from each other at Hemlock Drive – which becomes Farwell Avenue and ends at Main Street – and at Prince Street, where it stops at the northeast end of Hemlock Drive. The intersection is down the street from the post office at 1 Farwell Ave.

Police Chief Chip Rumsey is calling for the Farwell Avenue sign to be removed, noting a resident of the neighborhood had approached the department about doing so.

“It’s a very unusual place for a stop sign to be,” Rumsey told the council, noting that lines of sight up and down Farwell/Hemlock, a straight through-street, are unobstructed, rendering the stop sign unnecessary.

The Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices also offered no rationale for the sign to remain, the chief added. Traffic flow there is light, and there have been no records of vehicle crashes there in the past five years, he said.

The sign “seems to be unnecessary and maybe more of a confusion to have up there,” Rumsey said.

The Prince Street sign would remain in place. Prince Street is a loop road that has another stop sign closer to Farwell Avenue’s intersection with Main Street; that would stay, too.

The stop sign went up when the Hemlock Drive neighborhood, to the southeast of the intersection, became developed, Town Manager Bill Shane said.

“I would call it more of a political stop sign; it’s really to slow the traffic going up Farwell,” but is not an appropriate place to stop, he noted.

Shane cited some neighborhood concerns that removing the sign would cause traffic speeds to increase, but said, “it’s an enforcement issue; it’s really not a sign issue.”

One resident said the notice of Monday’s meeting stated that the stop sign at the intersection of Farwell and Prince was recommended for removal, although it is the sign at Hemlock and Prince being considered.

The council agreed the matter should be tabled, and a new notice issued, to ensure that residents know exactly which sign is up for discussion.

Land gift

The Town Council also discussed, and ultimately tabled to its next meeting, a proposed gift of just over 4 acres of vacant land on Oxford Lane that would be included as part of the town’s Rines Forest easement.

Paul Benard would gift the parcel to the town to settle a dispute with residents of Oxford and Windsor lanes who are concerned about overburdening of that area from a four-lot subdivision he is developing on Oxford, according to Town Manager Bill Shane.

The homeowners have agreed to settle the matter if a fifth lot remains as open space and provides a pedestrian easement for them into Rines Forest. Other lots have sold for about $160,000, Shane said.

Because the town’s Lands and Conservation Commission has yet to discuss the matter, the council tabled discussion until June 25.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

The Cumberland Town Council is considering removal of this stop sign at Hemlock Drive. The Prince Street stop sign in the background would remain.

This image shows the present location of the Hemlock Drive stop sign in Cumberland. Prince Street, a loop road directly northwest of Hemlock, has stop signs at both its endpoints. Hemlock becomes Farwell Avenue as it heads northwest toward Main Street.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.