Topsham selectmen OK warrant for special Town Meeting

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TOPSHAM — Voters will decide whether to spend $26,000 from a reserve account to fund conceptual design services for a Lower Village Waterfront Park.

The Board of Selectmen on Nov. 16 unanimously placed that question and several others on the warrant for a Wednesday, Nov. 30, special Town Meeting.

The town recently used a $20,000 grant from the Maine State Planning Office to hire consultants to gather public input on the park question. The study also investigated what would make sense for the property eyed for waterfront access: the area of Green Street, near the old fire station and the Androscoggin River.

A public meeting on a draft waterfront access study report was held Nov. 21, and a final plan is expected in December.

Voters will also be asked to approve a $10,000 Community Development Block Grant to study an expansion of bus service in the area.

Jason Bird, senior program director with the Mid-Coast Economic Development District, said in August that the study would, in part, look into linking bus services in Brunswick and Bath. It would also investigate the feasibility of extending Brunswick Explorer bus services into parts of Topsham.

Another warrant item asks voters to adopt an ordinance that will amend the sign section of the Zoning Code to provide standards for the installation of signs in new zoning districts. An amended sign ordinance is in the works and could be ready by the May 2012 Town Meeting.

Voters will also decide on amending zoning language regarding Fairground operations in order to simplify the process of permits being issued for non-Topsham Fair week activities.

Applicants would have to continue to go before the Board of Selectmen for initial permits, but to obtain one in subsequent years for substantially the same activities, the change would enable them to go through the code enforcement officer.

“If somebody is going to do the same thing year after year after year, why do they have to go through a public hearing year after year after year?,” Planning Director Rich Roedner asked. “(They could) just come in and get a permit.”

The special Town Meeting will take place at Mt. Ararat High School at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

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.