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CUMBERLAND — Following a public hearing Monday where sentiment was strong for leaving the Cross Road “elbow” turn unchanged, the Town Council voted unanimously to maintain the status quo.
The council also authorized a tax break for senior citizens, approved a 2 percent sewer rate increase, heard a presentation from the Cumberland Climate Action Team, and saw Natalie Muldoon sworn in as a firefighter/emergency medical technician.
Cross Road, which runs southeast off Winn Road, turns at an approximately 90-degree angle to the northeast before ending at U.S. Route 9 (Longwoods Road). With the town reconstructing Cross Road next month, officials had considered easing the angle to provide better site lines for traffic turning the corner.
But doing so would have removed about 15 feet of an existing driveway on the inside of the curve, and could also have created speeding problems in the future due to the wider angle, Town Manager Bill Shane said recently, noting that traffic now has to slow in order to make the curve.
Raised ground over a septic system, and an embankment at the turn, also make it difficult for motorists to see around the corner, he pointed out.
“I think leaving it as is, is totally acceptable,” Shane told the council, noting that only one accident had been logged at the turn, about a decade ago.
With sufficient signage, motorists who have never traveled the road before would know a sharp turn is coming, Councilor George Turner said.
The council also unanimously supported sending property tax assistance checks to residents 62 and older who qualify.
Of the nearly 180 homeowners to apply, almost all are receiving some kind of assistance, with 109, or 64 percent, receiving the $750 limit, according to Shane.
The nearly $110,000 in checks should go out at the end of this month or beginning of September. Surplus funds from the fiscal 2016 budget have been put toward the tax relief.
Those eligible for the fledgling program must have lived in Cumberland for at least a decade, and have a combined household income of no more than $69,000. Of those who applied, 39 percent had an income of $30,000 or less, some of them were below $17,000.
“It was a bittersweet process,” Shane said. “I was very happy that we were there doing it; I was very saddened by the number of folks we have in our community that are really having a difficult time.”
The council also heard from the Climate Action Team, which works to have the town reduce its carbon footprint by 50 percent by 2030. Of about 66,000 metric tons produced, 79 percent comes from residences, 13 percent from businesses, 7 percent from schools and 1 percent from town government, the group reported.
Figured by end use, 44 percent of the carbon footprint comes from heating, 37 percent from travel, 15 percent from electricity and 4 percent from waste.
The council also unanimously approved raising sewer fees 2 percent – from a monthly average of $67.32 last September to $68.66 next month – and hosted the swearing-in of Muldoon, who joined the department in 2008.
This Google Maps image shows how Cross Road (incorrectly marked in part as Range Road) in Cumberland turns at a 90-degree angle before it meets Longwoods Road. The Cumberland Town Council decided Monday to largely leave the turn as is.