Cumberland council sends Harris Road contract zone to referendum

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CUMBERLAND — As expected, the Town Council on Monday unanimously scheduled a Nov. 4 referendum that would repeal a Harris Road contract zone.

An informational meeting on the matter will he held Oct. 8.

Councilors on July 14 unanimously approved the agreement with developer Justin Fletcher, who intends to split his 3 Longwoods Road (Route 9) lot in exchange for deeding the town an acre of land for an approximately 500-foot connection of Harris Road to Route 9.

The pact would permit Fletcher to have one duplex and one house on the land. Density standards previously allowed one single-family home or one duplex on the property.

People who have purchased an easement use an existing private connection. Should the town take possession, that connection will be upgraded to town subdivision standards.

The Planning Board unanimously recommended passage in June.

No work on the road is planned until at least next summer, Town Manager Bill Shane has said.

Concerns about the road connection involve speed and safety, the condition of the existing Harris Road, a potential increase in traffic and disruption of the road’s quiet nature.

The connection of Harris Road to Route 9 is consistent with Cumberland’s Comprehensive Plan, Shane has said. The connection would help improve connectivity, and one of the Comprehensive Plan’s goals is to reduce the town’s number of dead-end roads, Councilor Shirley Storey-King has said.

“My biggest concerns down there are when we flood out Route 9, we have no way to get emergency vehicles in and out of town, and our mutual aid is definitely compromised when we don’t have a secondary entrance to the center of town,” Shane said Monday.

A petition to repeal the agreement required 599 certified signatures, or 10 percent of the number of registered town voters.

The town stopped counting signatures after certifying 614 of them, Town Clerk Tammy O’Donnell said last month.

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

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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.