2014-07-11 / Community

News Briefs

City ramps up handicapped access

The process of installing a handicapped ramp at a home or business in South Portland promises to soon get much easier.

On Monday, the city council voted unanimously to “opt-in” to a new state law that grants each municipality the power to have its code enforcement officer grant immediate

waivers. Currently, when a handicapped ramp needs to encroach on a building or property line setback boundary for safety reasons, the property owner needs to apply for a waiver from the zoning board of appeals — a process that can take several weeks, even months. “This is about doing the right thing for

folks who are disabled,” said South Portland state legislator Terry Morrison, a Democrat, who last year sponsored the bill that allows for the quick waiver, later signed into law by Republican Gov. Paul LePage. “The governor and I saw eye-to-eye on this particular subject,” said Morrison, who noted that he crafted the new process as something municipalities could chose to do or not, because “mandates are hard to get passed in the state legislature. “But I don’t see why anyone would not want to opt in to something like this,” he said. “If a person has a disability, they shouldn’t have to wait for a hearing before the board of appeals to get a ramp,” Councilor Linda Cohen agreed. A final vote on the new waiver process is scheduled for the July 21 city council meeting.

Building partners

The South Portland City Council has hired four local firms to provide engi- neering and technical services to the city for the next three years. Each contract includes the option for three, one-year renewals. Sixteen firms filed applications, from which the council made selections based on recommendations from a committee that included heads of nine different city departments.

Sebago Technics of South Portland was chosen to assist city staff on civil and transportation projects. Woodard and Curran of Portland was picked to help with pump stations and work at the wastewater treatment facility, as well as with water resource compliance, asset management and instrumentation needs. SMRT was chosen for architectural advice, while GIS will assist with mapping needs.

Actual costs for work done by each firm will depend on the project, based on a list of hourly fees for up to 25 different company employees and services, approved as part of the new contracts.

Cape Elizabeth hires principal

The Cape Elizabeth Board of Education

has hired a history teacher from Hiram to assume the assistant principal’s job at the local high school.

Nathan Carpenter, a teacher at Sacopee Valley High School, has worked in SAD 55 since 1992, shortly after graduating with a degree in history from Colby College in Waterville. He has since earned a master’s degree in education and educational leadership from the University of Southern Maine.

Although Cape High School will be Carpenter’s first post in school administration, he does have leadership experience. As a teacher mentor at Sacopee Valley, Carpenter helped his fellow teachers develop classroom management plans, curriculum designs and new methods for student engagement. He also served as a team leader for senior class teachers, as well as logging time as a graduation and senior-week coordinator.

Carpenter also is a long-time coach, having led track and field at the junior high and varsity boys level, as well as basketball and soccer teams in the district’s high school, junior high and recreational divi- sions. He was named the Maine Cross-Country Track & Field Coaches’ Association Coach of the Year four times, and won accolades as the Maine Sunday Telegram Track and Field Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2010.

Carpenter replaces Troy Henninger, who recently left Cape to become associate director of the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Carpenter is the second recent recruit to the area from Sacopee High School. Last year, then-Sacopee High principal Ryan Caron was tapped to lead South Portland High.

Good Table hearing set for next week

A popular Cape Elizabeth restaurant where patrons are used to waiting for a seat may soon have its reservation called.

In August 2013, Lisa and Tony Kostopoulos, owners of the Good Table restaurant on Ocean House Road, asked the town council to increase the number of seats allowed for dining establishments in the Business A zone from 80 to 100. The owners wrote in their application, “Oftentimes between guests in seats and guests waiting on the porch for a table we have 100 people here already.”

Cape has two Business A zones, encompassing 10 properties on Ocean House Road between Davis Point and Golden Ridge Lanes, and all or part of nine lots on Shore Road, near its intersection with Preble Street. The approved site plan for The Good Table, which was OKed following reconstruction after a 2001 fire, authorizes 75 seats.

At an April 15 meeting, the planning board voted provisionally to recommend to the town council that the seating limit retain the 80-person status quo. That decision seemed largely driven by board Vice Chairman Liza Quinn, who reported counting 104 people seated at the restaurant when dining there the previous Friday.

The Kostopoulos’ request was made only after it was discovered they were in violation of the 75-seat limit, said Quinn, who complained that the restaurant continued to violate that limit while waiting on its requested zoning change.

“I do not think this is the right way to run a town,” said Quinn. “I just find it upsetting that we are even considering making this change when a notice of violation was not written up and the ordinance is being flouted.”

The board voted 6-1, with Peter Curry dissenting, against the change following a May 22 public hearing. However, at that May 22 meeting, the mood flipped in favor of the increased seating capacity. The vote went 5-1, with Quinn now in the minority.

“I’m not sure we have any business talking about the interior layout of a restaurant,” said Curry at the time, suggesting that the determining factor for seating should be sufficient parking.

The town council formally received that planning board’s “go for it” recommendation at its June 9 meeting. The issue has since been forwarded to its three-person ordinance committee. However, because of the amount of time that has passed since the original request, the council has agreed to expedite the process, conducting its own required public hearing on the zoning change while awaiting the committee recommendation.

That public hearing will be held at the July 14 town council meeting. — compiled by Duke Harrington

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