Cumberland residents to vote on repeal of contract zone

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CUMBERLAND — With more than the necessary number of signatures in hand by the Aug. 13 deadline, a petition to repeal the Town Council’s recent decision on a Harris Road contract zone agreement is going to referendum Nov. 4.

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

The agreement would allow 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.

A private connection does exist, used by people who have purchased an easement. If the town takes possession, that connection will be upgraded to town subdivision standards.

The Planning Board unanimously recommended passage in June.

No work on the road had been planned until at least next summer, Town Manager Bill Shane said last week.

Harris Road resident Colleen Higgins approached Shane after the Town Council’s July 14 meeting about circulating a petition to repeal the council vote. The petition required 599 certified signatures, or 10 percent of the number of registered town voters, and were due back to the town 30 days after the council’s decision.

The town stopped counting signatures after certifying 615 of them, Shane said. A public hearing on the referendum may be held Sept. 8.

“We are all very excited and gearing up for all the work to come,” Higgins, who collected signatures with other residents, said in an email last week.

Concerns about the road connection involve speed and safety, the condition of the existing Harris Road, and a potential increase in traffic. The connection of Harris Road to Route 9 is consistent with Cumberland’s Comprehensive Plan, Shane has said.

The connection would be a means of improving 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.

But it is the quiet nature of such a street that attracted many of its residents, according to those who spoke at the July 14 public hearing.

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.