Town Of Cape Elizabeth
Cape Elizabeth News


Committees charged to develop new comprehensive plan, review needs of Spurwink Church

The Town Council be forming two committees to address two long-term needs of the town.

The council on Feb. 14 approved the charges of a Comprehensive Planning Committee; and, a Spurwink Church Study Committee.

The Comprehensive Planning Committee will be charged with developing a new guiding plan for the town's development. Cape Elizabeth's comprehensive plan dates back to 1993, and judging by the state standards of comprehensive planning updates every 10 years, is overdue for revision. (Click here to view text of the plan)

Comprehensive plans typically include recommendations for the community's future economic development, housing, recreation and open space, transportation, community facilities and land use, all related to the community's goals and objectives.

Not only is revision of the plan overdue, but availability of 2000 U.S. Census data also makes this an opportune time to develop a new comprehensive plan, said Town Manager Michael McGovern.

Town Planner Maureen O'Meara will provide staff leadership for the 11-member committee, which will include two members each from the Town Council and Planning Board; one member each from the School Board, Conservation Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals; and four citizen representatives. One of those representatives should be a town business owner.

The plan will include inventory and analysis sections, developed with assistance from the Greater Portland Council of Governments. Public education, public forums, an opinion survey and articles in local newspapers and the Town Web site will be part of the planning process.

A draft comprehensive plan is to be completed and presented to the Town Council for consideration 18 months from the first meeting of the Comprehensive Planning Committee.

Spurwink Church Study Committee

The second committee charge approved by the council Feb. 14 will include reviewing the needs of one Cape Elizabeth's most valuable historical assets, and to identify the Town's role in meeting those needs. The Spurwink Church Study Committee will review the condition of the Spurwink Church, develop a plan for rehabilitation, and make a recommendation to the Town Council on how any plan should be funded.

Constructed in 1802, the building is the oldest in Cape Elizabeth and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It underwent two 19th-century renovations, one in 1834 and another in 1895. A number of improvements were made in 1982 with publicly donated funds. It currently serves as a popular venue for weddings during the spring, summer and fall.

"Any work to be done on the church requires careful planning due to the building's historic importance and the need to suspend its use for a period while work is ongoing," said Town Manager Michael McGovern, in a memo to the Town Council.

A fourth charge of the committee is to review and make a recommendation on the town's position of ownership and responsibility for the Spurwink Church.

A preliminary report prepared  in 2003 by Pinkham & Greer engineers outlines $265,650 worth of repairs needed to various parts of the building, ranging from the foundation to the front entry way to the bell tower. Part of the repairs calls for replacement of the foundation, which would require jacking the building and supporting it temporarily during excavation and foundation construction.

Whether the town will follow that advice will be up the committee.

The committee will have nine members, seven to be citizens appointed by the Town Council's appointments committee. Two of the members will be town councilors at the time of their appointment. Facilities Manager Ernie MacVane and Assistant Town Manager Debra Lane will serve as non-voting members.

The committee may spend up to $12,000 from the Spurwink Church fund for professional advice and engineering services. Currently there is approximately $23,000 in the fund, which is administered by the Town.