CUMBERLAND — The Town Council Monday rezoned the Doane property into a new, mixed-use zone aimed to increase town revenues and possible commercial development.
The council also heard a report from the Cool Cities committee on recommendations to decrease town energy use and held a workshop on the Rines Forest Management Plan, which will go to public hearing March 9.
A public hearing on a credit union proposed for Main Street was originally scheduled for this week, but was rescheduled for March 9 because of a conflict with the developer’s schedule.
After more than a year of work by the Doane Property Advisory Committee, the nearly 41-acre town-owned parcel between Drowne Road and lower Main Street was rezoned into the new Village Mixed-use Zone, which was created specifically for this property.
The property, which was formerly Rural Residential-1, can now be used for a dense mix of residential and commerical uses, including houses, apartment buildings, markets, day-care centers, restaurants, bed-and-breakfast inns, personal services, senior housing, small offices and other small-scale businesses.
The minimum lot size is 5,000 square feet, with 50 feet of lot frontage. Maximum footprint restrictions are placed on markets (5,000 square feet), restaurants (3,000 square feet) and retail spaces (2,000 square feet).
Chairwoman Pam Russell noted that the committee hopes to see a “green design community” encouraged within the new district. But for the sake of flexibility, the panel did not put language to that effect in the ordinance. The committee also hopes to see no or few dead-end roads, although language restricting them was taken out of the ordinance, also for flexibility.
Several citizens spoke in favor of the zoning change. Some, including committee member Kathy Lynch, said they hope the dense zone would limit residential sprawl and the so-called “Cumberland castles” found elsewhere in town.
Others suggested that the inclusion of small commerce close to the town center would take some pressure off Main Street.
“This makes more sense than trying to shoehorn (development) into areas where residences already exist,” resident Dan Nuzzi said.
Nuzzi previously took a stance against further business development on Main Street. That street has recently been the focus of possible rezoning, both in
talks of an overlay zone that would allow business uses and a contract
zone proposal for a credit union, which goes to public hearing March 9.
Steven Winn, who owns property on Stockholm Drive, was the only voice of opposition Monday, fearing “unintended consquences” of the new zone – namely a change of character of nearby neighborhoods.
The rezoning passed 6-0, with Councilor Jeff Porter absent.
Any future development of the Doane property would be done by a private developer; the town will sell the land to one or more developers whose plans coincide with the town’s hopes for the property.
In other business, the council heard from the Cool Cities Committee, which was established last summer under the charge of making recommendations to help decrease the town’s carbon footprint and energy costs.
Committee Chairman Alex Brown presented the report, which showed lots of work, but few substantial suggestions.
The committee looked at the possibility of putting a wind turbine at the town garage, but was told there isn’t enough wind there to make it worthwhile. Members looked at using hybrid or more-efficient vehicles in town, but discovered that existing models don’t meet town standards for police cruisers and other town vehicles. Switching to bio-diesel would produce no cost savings, they discovered, and moving to natural gas fuel would require additional infrastructure.
An energy audit did suggest installing compact fluorescent light bulbs and motion sensors, as well as upgrading ventilation systems to reduce energy use in school and town buildings. Other recommendations from the committee include testing wind capacity at the site of any future cell phone towers, placing anti-idling signs around town, restricting future streetlights and performing more energy audits.
Future considerations include solar power, a composting facility, and a continued look for grant opportunities.
A council workshop before Monday’s meeting focused on the Rines Forest Management Plan. The plan recommends clearing between 20 percent and 40 percent of several sections of the forest in order to control invasive species, maximize biodiversity, protect biological features and enhance existing habitats. Controlled clearing is recommended for 2010-2011. The plan will face public hearing and council action March 9.