Cumberland Town Council to hear Main Street zoning change proposal

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CUMBERLAND — A zoning change that would allow small businesses along part of Main Street goes before the Town Council on Monday, July 26.

The proposal is contained in the Cumberland Town Center Advisory Committee’s final report to the council, the culmination of nearly a year’s worth of work.

Among the tasks that the council assigned the committee was to determine the desires of residents concerning the portion of Main Street between Tuttle Road and Moss Side Cemetery.

Town Planner Carla Nixon said the council will likely refer the proposal to the Planning Board, which she expects will hold a public hearing on the matter next month. The Planning Board will make a recommendation, which the Town Council will consider when deciding, after an additional public hearing, whether to approve the zoning change.

Zoning on the affected portion of Main Street would change from Medium Density Residential, which does not allow retail or commercial uses, to the Town Center District. This new district would permit homes, personal services like hair salons, business and professional offices, retail stores of no more than 2,000 square feet, cafes, small markets, health and fitness studios and residential-care facilities.

All the non-residential uses currently along that strip are grandfathered, Nixon said, except for the Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union, which was permitted by the Town Council last year through a contract zone.

“The reason (the town center advisory) committee was put together is because, in part … there was a concern that the council was using contract zoning too much on Main Street,” Nixon said, “that they really need to look comprehensively at what needs to be done there, if anything.”

Nixon said the committee tried not to adversely impact the people who live in the area, but she also noted that the comprehensive planning process showed that many residents desire a town center on Main Street.

“They want to be able to get a cup of coffee, get some basic things in town,” she said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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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.