CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council accepted a proposed update of the Town Center Plan on Monday, despite growing criticism of its recommendations and how they were developed.

Of particular concern is a recommendation to ease the town’s wetland protection regulations in the town center district when a proposed development would create “substantial public benefit.”

No amendment to the wetland regulations has been formally proposed. However, as of Monday evening, 238 people had signed an online petition against “dismantling laws that preserve our wetlands and wildlife.”

The Town Center Plan Committee developed the recommendation after a representative of Peter Haffenreffer, who owns land next to Town Hall, offered to make a village green the centerpiece of a commercial-residential development that he’d like to build on the property.

Several speakers Monday night noted that the town’s wetland regulations already allow developers to build in the town center district under certain circumstances.

“We should not grant them more,” Randi Bollenack of Belfield Road told the council. “Let’s follow the rules.”

The council formally accepted the committee’s proposed update of the 1993 Town Center Plan and agreed to begin reviewing it at a September workshop meeting.

The town center district consists of 144 acres, or about 1 percent of the town’s total area, according to Stephanie Carver, chairwoman of the nine-member committee.

Overall, the proposed updated plan calls for creating “an identifiable, vibrant town center that includes mixed retail uses for residents and visitors, a safe and inviting pedestrian and bicycle environment, a common meeting place, visual vitality” and links to nearby open spaces and residential neighborhoods.

Haffenreffer has submitted no formal development proposal to the town, according to Town Manager Mike McGovern, who said he’s concerned about the proposed updated plan because “there are a lot of questions out there and I share a lot of them.”

Haffenreffer’s representative told the committee that the 4.5-acre development would consist of one single-story commercial building and three two-story buildings with a mixture of commercial and residential uses.

The village green would be created on 1 acre along Route 77 that includes a small section of wetlands, which would be incorporated into the landscape as a pond or a rain garden, Carver said.

Carver also noted that the property is commercially zoned and has been considered as a site for a three-story medical office building with a large parking area.

“This is not sacred land,” Carver told the council, adding that the committee incorporated Haffenreffer’s idea and the recommendation to ease wetland regulations as an “opportunity to gain something for the town.”

About a dozen people spoke on the proposed updated plan, raising further questions about a recommendation to establish a tax increment financing district to fund infrastructure improvements and about the lack of a process to decide whether a proposed development offers “substantial public benefit.”

Some also questioned how the council sets its goals and whether a significant number of townspeople actually want a village green.

Other recommendations in the proposed updated plan suggest recasting Route 77 in the town center as “Main Street,” spending as much as $1.7 million on sidewalks and building on existing design standards to further develop the visual appeal of a village center.