2015-08-21 / Community

In the News

Compiled by
Staff Writer Duke Harrington

Council seeks public input

The Cape Elizabeth Town Council is soliciting public input on how it prioritizes the work it does, and how it should in the future.

A “community roundtable” will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17, at Cape Elizabeth Middle School.

“We’ve heard from people for as long as I’ve been on the council that the council needed to provide some kind of a forum, or a better way, or better process of seeking input about the goals of the council’s work and a better process for disseminating information about those goals,” said Councilor Molly MacAuslan.

MacAuslan, chairman of the council’s appointments subcommittee, which recommended to the full council that it conduct the community dialog, said the evening will start with an overview of how the council has historically set its annual goals, followed by “broader discussion of some specific topics we would like some input on.” After that, she said, attendees will be broken into groups of six to eight participants for a brainstorming session on additional issues.

“It will be a forum, kind of similar to what we used in in the library discussions.” MacCauslan said. “We look forward to getting (the public’s) guidance.”

Cape considers ‘amendments’

The Cape Elizabeth Town Council has given the planning board the go-ahead to draft a package of zoning ordinance amendments.

Described by Town Planner Maureen O’Meara as a “cleanup package” of “technical amendments,” the edits will serve to clarify language in existing zoning rules, and prevent so-called “unintended interpretations.”

The need for minor edits becomes clear over time, O’Meara said, because residents and developers will invariably enter her office with projects and proposals and questions not envisioned when the ordinance language was originally crafted.

“People will come in with projects, we’ll go to apply the ordinance and go, ‘Uh-oh, that’s kind of a problem,’” she explained at the town council’s Aug. 10 meeting.

Examples of items on a “starter list” of 11 possible amendments include increasing the types of trees allowed in streetscape plantings and the minimum distance between them; allowing staff to approve minor site plan amendments, with a sign-off from the planning board chairman, rather than requiring a full planning board vote; improving the definition of what qualifies as a “structure,” as well as clarifying how the town treats the proposed enlargement of structures that pre-date code, and so do not conform to code; an exemption to the public notice requirement to abutters when a person is building a shed no more than 150 square feet in size.

“This list is not intended to implement the comprehensive plan, or make major policy changes, it’s basically intended to clarify existing provisions,” O’Meara said.

The technical amendments package will return to the council for approval once finished by the planning board. Public hearings on the changes will be held before both the planning board and the town council prior to implementation.

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