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Hearing Jan. 23 on petition calling for limits on sale, release of town shoreline access

The Town Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 on a citizen petition to restrict, by ordinance, the town's ability to sell or release rights to some shoreland properties.

The "Petition for Enactment of Ordinance to Limit Disposition of Shoreline Real Estate" calls for an amendment to the conservation ordinance that would prevent the town from selling, releasing or otherwise disposing of real estate that provides direct or indirect access to shoreland areas, and whose retention has been recommended by an authorized town committee, unless approved by five of the seven members of the Town Council, or by a public referendum.

"The ordinance enacts a safeguard against the Town Council releasing public rights to shoreline resources by a bare majority vote," says a letter submitted with the petition on Jan. 2 by Richard Bryant, attorney representing the Save Our Shoreline Access Coalition, a citizen group "organized to foster Cape Elizabeth's public access rights to shoreland resources," Bryant's letter says.

The petition included 914 signatures, 836 of which were verified by the town clerk. The ordinance enactment-by-petition provisions of the town charter requires signatures from 10 percent of registered voters, which on Jan. 2 numbered 8,232, Lane's certification says.

The charter requires the council to set a public hearing in 30 days, and to set a date for a townwide vote on the petition within 30 days after the hearing. If it chooses, the council may instead adopt the ordinance amendment outright.

Councilors voted to set the hearing at their meeting Jan. 14. The Jan. 23 hearing will be broadcast live on CETV.