Freeport turf field group seeks $100K from town

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FREEPORT — Changes to the town’s five-year capital plan were proposed at a Town Council workshop Tuesday night.

Councilors on March 15 went through each article of Town Manager Peter Joseph’s proposed plan, which has a fiscal year 2017 budget of $1.85 million, a decrease of more than $697,000 from this year.

A public hearing and initial vote on the plan and the changes is set for April 5.

One of the biggest proposed changes is a request from Councilor Sarah Tracy to help fund an artificial turf field at the high school. The Tri-Town Track and Field Committee, on which Tracy volunteers, has asked the town for $100,000; the estimated total cost of the project is $3.2 million. 

Councilors discussed giving the organization money from the municipal reserve fund. A final decision will be made April 5 or April 12, when it is expected the capital plan will face final approval.

Other proposed changes to the plan include an increase of $5,000 to replace a bridge at Florida Lake, and a decrease of $30,000 for paving projects. Also, there will be a reduction in the library budget because of lower-than-expected costs in the budget for computers, although the library staff was unsure of the exact amount.

The biggest driver of the 2017 capital budget is comprehensive town improvements, with tax increment financing of village improvements, municipal facilities, and the Public Works Department also accounting for large portions of the budget.

Overlay zoning amendment

Councilors on Monday approved an overlay zoning amendment for Cottage and Forest streets, two dead-end roads that are accessible from West Street. The streets are in the Village 1 District.

The residents on the streets petitioned for the amendment after a house on Cottage Street was converted into office space. The overlay district has been created around the business, which is at the beginning of the road, so it won’t be affected by the change.

A dozen or so residents were at the meeting and most said they had no problem with the office space, but feared more businesses could move into the neighborhood. 

The Planning Board has recommended to the Town Council 3-2 that the amendment be passed. The Town Council approved it 5-1, with Councilor Kristina Egan against and Councilor Jim Hendricks absent.

The following are excluded from the district under the amendment:  schools, municipal facilities, private assemblies, business and professional offices, bed-and-breakfast inns, nursing homes, day care facilities, construction services, and parking areas.

Multi-family units, religious institutions and public utilities are allowed in the Village 1 District. The amendment also wouldn’t affect people who work out of their homes, as long as they don’t have customers or clients coming and going.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Freeport Town Hall

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.