April 20, 2001


The Committee has been busy working on a number of issues that many people will be interested in. We will have a PUBLIC MEETING on MAY 10 AT 7:00 PM AT THE HALL for public discussion of:

A proposal to allow food carts on the Island. A more detailed proposal can be gotten at the Library. The basic proposal is this: to have an experiment for a year to allow small carts selling food, at sites on Chebeague owned by the Town such as
Chandler1s Cove Wharf. Two such permits would be granted in the experimental year. If the experiment is successful, it could be continued, perhaps at other sites on the Island.

On the LRPC1s survey last year protecting the groundwater was ranked as the most important of all the issues that people were asked about. Everyone recognizes how critical the quality of the groundwater is to life on Chebeague, so several of our first
efforts havae been concerned with that:

The State is making a grant available to the Town to replace home heating oil tanks on Chebeague that are a potential hazard to the groundwater. People who need such replacements get a new tank and installation, generally free of charge.
We are just beginning to work with the Town and the State on how the program will actually work on Chebeague. If you have an interest in being involved, contact Nancy Adams or Beth Howe.

Also we have been working on a proposal to increase regular pumping of septic tanks. I could either be voluntary or mandatory, but, in either case would involve having a septic punper and storage tank on the Island and a pumping cycle of
about every 5 years for year-round residents (10 years for summer). If it were mandatory it could be paid for by the equivalent of the mainland1s sewer tax of about $50 per year. If voluntary, homeowners would pay for each pumpout.

Also of note from the LRPC:


Water Quality Study: At its meeting on April 9 the Town Council agreed to provide $15,500 to the hydrogeologic firm of Sevee Maher to update the Chebeague groundwater study that they had done in 1992. This study will tell us how we are
doing in terms of protecting Chebeague1s groundwater and whether there are problems that we need to deal with. Sevee Maher will be sending out a questionnaire to all property owners about wells. A sample of wells will also be tested directly to see
if there are problems of salt water intrusion or contamination from septic systems.

Building Cap: At its March 26 meeting the Town council amended the building cap to allow more building on Chebeague in two ways. (1) As on the mainland, lots in existing Island subdivisions are exempt from the cap. Seven people on the
waiting list qualify for permits on this basis. (2) Most of the other people on the waiting list for growth permits would be given unused mainland subdivision permits on a one-time basis. Five permits were given out in April in the order in which
people appear on the list. About the same number each month are expected for May and June. Once people are notified, they have 30 days to accept or decline the permit. If they accept it, they have 90 days to convert it to a building permit and start
construction. Since there were 23 people on the list on March 31, most people on the waiting list will probably get a growth permit. Anyone who is offered a permit and decides not to take it because they are not ready to build yet may reapply when
they are ready. The Council also asked the Town attorney to develop a proposal to possibly exempt affordable housing on Chebeague from the cap.


The Chebeague Long Range Planning Committee (established by the Cumberland Town Council last Spring) has been working diligently since June. Meeting biweekly at the Parish House, the Committee is developing recommendations that can be taken to the Council for actions the Town might take to manage growth on Chebeague and to maintain the Island community that we all cherish.

The Committee has been doing in-depth research on a number of topics. Ultimately these will be brought together into a long range plan for Chebeague with recommendations to the Council. The topics we have reviewed in depth this fall have been:
transportation, both on the Island and to the mainland highway system.
groundwater, including impacts of septic systems, oil tanks, other petroleum leaks or spills, and other chemicals.
cost of municipal services and the impacts of Maine's property tax system on the Island.
affordable housing, looking at both land values and the value and condition of the housing stock.

Thank you to all who have participated in our meetings so far. We welcome more participation over the next few months. We will circulate more information as we get closer to formulating our recommendations. Look for announcements of public meetings. We need your comments and input before we can finalize these recommendations.

In addition to discussing these various issues, we now have the results of the survey that was sent out in September. We got 537 responses, a 48 percent response rate, which is veery good. Among those who answered, 32 percent were year-round residents and 59 percent were summer people.

The results will probably not knock anyone over from surprise. But they do provide very useful input into our discussions, and will help to support our ultimate recommendations. One of the most interesting aspects of the replies is how much different groups, such as year-round and summer people, agreed on what they wanted to preserve about Chebeague and what issues they think we face. Among the things that people want to preserve, the highest-ranked things were: Chebeague's sense of community (mentioned by 30 %), beach and shore access for both fishing and recreation (24%), the Island's rural character (18%), and its fishing economy (13 %). The challenges they mentioned most on their own were growth and development (48%), transportation to the mainland (40%), taxes (25%) and ferry parking on both Chebeague and the mainland (25 and 24%). When people were asked about a list of specific possible problems, the answers were very similar -- preserving the rural character of the Island, transportation to the mainland, shore access, taxes -- except that the highest-ranked issue was keeping the groundwater unpolluted.

Issues such as maintaining the school and providing affordable housing were emphasized more by year-round residents. Summer people ranked the Island's natural beauty and tranquility, somewhat higher. But these differences were marginal. Summer people care about maintaining the year-round community and year-rounders appreciate the Island's natural character.

Among other findings: of the Town services that were evaluated on the survey, the rescue, fire department and library took top places, while road quality and acquisition of open space took the booby prizes. Respondents also gave a long and useful list of places they especially wanted to see preserved.