China planners seek to place revised comprehensive plan on November ballot

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members acted on two important issues at their June 9 meeting, setting the schedule for moving the revised comprehensive plan to a November vote and approving Phase Two of the causeway project at the head of China Lake’s east basin.

Planners intend to ask selectmen to review the revised plan at their June 22 meeting. If selectmen are satisfied, they are asked to forward it to the appropriate state reviewing agency. If they make substantive changes, planning board members want to see them before the document goes to the state.

Planning Board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo said he is the state employee usually responsible for reviewing comprehensive plans. He thinks it appropriate for him to delegate review of China’s to a colleague.

Miragliuolo said the state reviewer is allowed up to 35 days, and after the plan receives state approval it needs a public hearing before it goes on a Nov. 3 local ballot. The schedule is “kinda tight,” he commented.

Those who want to read the revised plan can find it on the Town of China website. Under “Officials, Boards & Committees,” go to “Comprehensive Plan – Implementation Committee” and scroll to the bottom of the list, to TOC 2020 COMP PLAN- Final Version May 2020.pdf (<–or click here!).

Engineer Mark McCluskey, of A. E. Hodsdon Consulting Engineers, and Pastor Ronald Morrell, speaking on behalf of the China Baptist Church, joined the virtual planning board meeting for the discussion of the causeway project.

The project, started with construction of the new causeway bridge, is funded by China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund. That fund is supported by taxes paid by Central Maine Power Company on its transmission line through China and its South China substation. China’s TIF Committee makes recommendations to selectmen on use of TIF money; voters have the final say.

McCluskey explained Phase Two involves building a retaining wall along the north end of the lake, with a walkway between it and the road. The wall will line the shore from 100 feet or more west of the new bridge to the boat landing east of the bridge. The boat landing and the parking area across the road will be improved.

Benefits are twofold, McCluskey said: shoreline erosion will be prevented, and pedestrians will have a safe place to walk out of the roadway.

He told Morrell some work will be done on the north side of the causeway toward the church parking lot, but it should not impinge on church property. Any arrangement to use church property, for example to stockpile construction materials, would be between the contractor and church management, he said.

McCluskey said he has the required state and federal permits and, with Planning Board approval, thinks it is time to seek bids for the work. At town officials’ request, he said, work will be postponed as late in the season as possible to allow maximum use of the boat landing.

Whether Causeway Street is closed during construction is also a town decision, McCluskey said. Closing it would probably save money, he said; he predicted bidders would raise their prices if they had to add traffic control to the job.

Planning board members found the project meets all criteria in town ordinances and approved it unanimously. After the board’s action, Miragliuolo issued the usual reminder that abutters and other interested parties have 30 days to file an appeal of the decision.

When the TIF Committee met June 15, members present agreed that McCluskey should prepare bid requests and have committee members review them before he distributes them to contractors and the public. He will also review and tabulate bids received. TIF Committee members would then do their review and submit a recommendation to selectmen.

The next regular planning board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23.


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