Topsham seeks input on mall road master plan

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TOPSHAM — Town officials are seeking public input on the Topsham Fair Mall Road Master Plan.

The 6 p.m. meeting on Nov. 16 will take place in the Don Russell Meeting Room at the Topsham Municipal Building.

The final plan could be ready by late December or early January, Planning Director Rod Melanson said in an interview Oct. 28. One likely result coming from the master plan will be an update of Topsham’s traffic impact ordinance, which would have to go to Town Meeting for approval.

The Nov. 16 meeting is “really a reaction to the concepts that we’re coming up with,” Melanson said.

The Board of Selectmen in December 2015 unanimously approved spending $50,000 on the project, which stems from projects approved for the road last fall. Town staff realized during the planning process that the town lacked a master planning effort when faced with new development that could have major impacts.

The master plan will encompass the stretch from U.S. Route 196 to Winter Street.

Initial analysis of the road indicates that it “can handle existing and future capacity while being retrofitted more in keeping with the character of a multi-modal town street,” Mitchell Rasor of Yarmouth-based MRLD Landscape Architecture & Urbanism, the project’s engineering firm, noted Monday.

The retrofit will make the road “more regionally competitive,” along with boosting its aesthetic qualities and pedestrian access, and mitigating impacts of stormwater on the “urban impaired” watershed, Rasor added.

Several design alternatives under consideration include center medians at non-intersection locations; a shared use path; sidewalks; a reduced number of lanes; a roundabout; pedestrian-scale lighting; and trees and rain gardens, according to Rasor.

“The community is being proactive by creating a holistic plan for (the road), rather than responding on a project-by-project basis,” he noted. “The master plan will enhance and streamline communications between the private sector and the community.”

The study has included working with stakeholders – residential property owners and businesses, along with community members – to develop a plan and improve upon existing conditions.

Town officials have received “very positive feedback on the concepts from the stakeholder group,” Melanson said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A potential configuration of Topsham Fair Mall Road between U.S. Route 196 and Winner’s Circle could be discussed at meeting on the mall road master plan scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 16.

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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.