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Hearing Jan. 9 on policy for developing 'Complete Streets'

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed "Complete Streets" policy for the town on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017.

Long-term, the policy will guide development of safe, efficient streets for users of all abilities, whether they are on foot, on bicycles, in motorized vehicles or in public transportation. It supports the goals of the town-center plan and the comprehensive plan.

Short-term, having a Complete Streets policy will score points with the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System when it considers Cape Elizabeth's request for a $300,000-$500,000 grant for sidewalk construction in the town center.

The council voted to set the hearing, and to apply for the sidewalk grant, at their meeting Dec. 12, 2016.

Plans are to package the grant request with one for similar projects in South Portland and Portland to provide the most competitive application, said Town Planner Maureen O'Meara. "A package project - we get a 'check' for that," O'Meara said, explaining how PACTS considers applications. "Also for communities that have a Complete Streets policy, we get a check for that," she said.

Both Portland and South Portland have Complete Streets policies in place. Cape Elizabeth's draft policy is a modified version of Scarborough's, O'Meara said.

Officials hope to adopt the policy in time for the Feb. 3, 2017 grant application deadline, but at least one councilor was concerned about holding a hearing on a policy with so little time to study it. "It looks great but it's pretty in-depth," said Councilor Jessica Sullivan. "I would feel more comfortable having a better understanding of it."

Town Manager Michael McGovern suggested that staff hold an informal, public briefing with councilors after the holidays but before the Jan. 9 hearing, an idea most councilors liked.

The grant proposal seeks to complete the sidewalk on Route 77 from Jordan Way to Fowler Road, including the front of the Pond Cove Shopping Center. It assumes a 25-percent local match, which could come from the town's capital budget and from monies accumulated in the Tax Increment Finance district established in 2015. The grant would be awarded for the 2020-21 construction year if approved. [see grant application memo]