2016-04-22 / Community News

Updated townwide planning document on the way

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Town Planner Dan Bacon is hoping funding from the fiscal 2017 capital improvement budget will help his department get a jumpstart on updating the Comprehensive Plan, a townwide planning document that was last updated in 2006.

Bacon told finance committee members last week that state law mandates that communities update their comprehensive plan every 10 to 12 years. The planning department is working with the long-range planning committee and the Scarborough Economic Development Corporation on the update, which is a two-year process.

According to the narrative regarding the planning department’s capital project proposal, the initial phase of the comprehensive plan update, which would cost $55,000, “is slatted to include inventorying and analyzing our growth rate, trends, impacts and fiscal implications, as well as assessing the effectiveness of our land use and growth management policies to prepare for the future. While the planning staff will perform much of this work, consultant assistance is needed to supplement staff’s efforts.”

The plan, Bacon said would help to determine what sort of development is right for the town and what type is not.

“It’s really something that can give us some good policy direction,” Bacon said.

Town Manager Tom Hall said the first phase is critical before sending the plan out for public comment.

“This is the pre-work that needs to be done before we engage the community and do the work on the comp plan,” he said.

The second, and final, phase of the comprehensive plan update process is scheduled for fiscal year 2018 and would “provide consultant assistance to help planning staff and the long-range planning committee on the plan update and to craft a complete, supported and inspiring comprehensive plan that charts the town’s plans for growth, development, and livability for the next 10 years and beyond.”

Finance Committee member Peter Hayes asked Bacon if pushing it off a year would be possible. Bacon said as proposed now, because the update is a two-year process, the new comprehensive plan would go into effect right when the 12-year window on the existing one is expiring.

The planning department is also hoping to use the capital budget to fund a renovation of the department’s front lobby, the purchase of a new code enforcement/fire inspection vehicle and to bond the local share – $216,700 – of the $3.6 million plan to extend the Eastern Trail 1.6 miles from the Nonesuch River in Scarborough to the Wainwright Recreation Complex in South Portland. The Maine Department of Transportation and Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System has agreed to fund $2.7 million of the cost, but as a requirement of the PACTS funding, Scarborough has to fund a local share of the project. The town is working with PACTS, the DOT, Eastern Trail officials other partners to raise the remaining $700,000 through fundraising.

The project, Bacon said, has been “a long time coming” because of the complexity of the trail having to traverse over both the Nonesuch River and the PanAm railroad line.

The renovation project, Bacon said, is aimed at providing a better space for staff to handle customer service requests and for the public, developers and real estate professionals to look over files and investigate plans. The code enforcement/fire inspection vehicle would replace a 2003 Yukon vehicle that is costly to maintain and gets poor gas mileage. The proposed Ford Explorer would allow Jim Butler, the code enforcement officer/fire inspector, to be able to get into construction sites as well as space to hold fire emergency response equipment and supplies.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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