Cumberland enacts retail moratorium along Route 1

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council approved a 90-day moratorium Monday on retail businesses in the Office Commercial South Zone on Route 1.

The council voted 6-1, with Councilor Jeff Porter opposed, on the suspension of retail and associated uses.

The OCS zone runs along Route 1, south from the intersection with Tuttle Road to the Falmouth line. Seven lots in about 20 percent of the zone could be developed for retail, Town Manager Bill Shane said.

Ordinance changes last summer inadvertently added retail as a permitted use in the zone. Now the town wants to put a hold on development of that kind so that it can establish rules for allowable retail uses.

“It’s really a look to see what is the best use of the remaining available land in that zone, so that we can capture the best future tax revenues, but also make the zone compatible,” Shane said, with new businesses emerging in the OCS zone.

He also noted that the moratorium is a chance to “take a step back and not have somebody put a lot of time and effort into something we really didn’t want to see here in town,” Shane said.

The manager said there are no pending applications for retail uses. The Town Council and Ordinance Committee will review the matter, which should go to the Planning Board by late July or early August, Shane explained.

He said the town is looking to allow limited retail uses, with restrictions on size and hours of operation. Shane said a drug store, bank, hardware store, or restaurant are uses he would support.

The matter attracted no public comment.

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.