A group of Cape Elizabeth residents has submitted a petition signed by 911 registered voters seeking an ordinance change that would require at least five town councilors or a town referendum to approve the sale or release of shoreland property rights held by the town.

Currently, a simple majority of seven councilors may approve a town property transfer.

The Save Our Shoreline Access Coalition submitted the petition Wednesday, hoping to prevent the loss of town-held waterfront access rights such as those held along an undeveloped stretch of Surf Side Avenue in the Shore Acres subdivision.

The so-called paper street is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit by several waterfront residents who want to prevent the town from ever developing a public path between their multimillion-dollar homes and the rocky shore of Broad Cove.

The waterfront residents offered to pay the town $500,000 to vacate or give up its rights to the paper street. The Town Council voted 6-1 to reject their offer in September.

Town Manager Matt Sturgis said the town clerk’s office must review the petition to make sure it has a minimum 837 valid signatures – a number that represents 10 percent of the registered voters in town during the most recent gubernatorial election. Sturgis said the council may decide to adopt the ordinance change or put it out to referendum.


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