WESTBROOK – The Westbrook Planning Board voted unanimously last week to recommend that the council adopt the new plan, which has been two years in the making. The council must approve the plan before it can be put into action.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said Wednesday that the council would hold a public hearing on the new plan before taking a final vote. He said the hearing had not been scheduled yet, but since a public hearing requires a 30-day notice before it can be held, he anticipates it would be on the council’s agenda sometime in late January or early February of next year.

The Maine State Planning Office requires that communities update their comprehensive plan about every 10 years. The new plan approved by the Planning Board does not call for any major changes from the one adopted in 2000.

State Rep. Ann Peoples was a member of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force for this latest plan, and she was also a member of the committee that formulated the plan in 2000. She told the Planning Board that she was proud of how well the 2000 plan served the city and she was equally pleased with the new plan.

“(The 2000 plan) served us well for 10 years,” she said. “It was wonderful to me to realize that, while we had some tweaking to do, we really didn’t have to go back and reinvent the wheel. I’m very proud of the product we produced.”

While the new plan avoids any major changes, it does make some adjustments. Among them are zoning changes that would allow more commercial and housing development along the Route 302 corridor.

“Westbrook will pursue changes to the zoning provisions in the Bridgton Road corridor that would enable more compact development with reduced curb cuts and a mix of uses, to include multi-family residential,” reads the plan. “Such development would be consistent with a smaller-scale traditional ‘Main Street’ corridor.”

In the proposed plan, the city’s Comprehensive Plan Committee said that the development in the Route 302 area, which is a major route for commuters to both Portland and the Lakes Region, is generally “1960s style” commercial strips on small lots with each lot having at least one access point (also known as a curb cut), with single-family homes interspersed along with the commercial development. The committee said that the multiple curb cuts on the two-lane road has led to “less than desirable traffic conditions” that could slow down potential economic development along the road. The committee believes the new plan would help ease traffic and encourage more development in that area, bringing more tax revenue to the city.

The new plan was developed with much public participation, most of which came through a series of meetings with residents in individual wards and stakeholder groups. These meetings led to what was called a citywide visioning day.

Dave Haskell, the chairman of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force, told the Planning Board that the public input was a key part of the group’s work.

“The public, from the time we started the project, has been extremely helpful,” Haskell said. “They have given us some tremendous support and some tremendous ideas. We’re very happy with the final product.”


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