2015-02-27 / Front Page

Ocean Ave building moratorium weighed

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — With two summers of Ocean Avenue shoulder work in its sail, Kennebunkport is now looking at two more to rebuild the road, after which selectmen are expected to impose a fiveyear building moratorium.

According to Public Works Director Michael Claus, crews will grind down the existing pavement between the Wandby Beach parking area and Turbats Creek Road, then lay a new base of pavement, using the expanded shoulder areas to incorporate wider bicycle and pedestrian lanes. Half of the construction is expected to be complete this fall, with the rest to follow in 2016.

Town Manger Laurie Smith said once work is finished, the town would likely impose a five-year building moratorium along the length of the new roadway. Although the moratorium would not ban construction of a new home, it would prevent digging into the town’s right-of-way to make utility connections, or creating a curb cut to install a driveway, which essentially means the same thing, Smith acknowledged in a Feb. 20 interview.

“It’s $250,000. That’s the investment we’ll be making, and that’s why we want to protect it,” Smith told selectmen at their Feb. 12 meeting, while lobbying in favor of the building ban.

“I think we’re all on board with that,” said Chairman Allen Daggett, to an accompanying Greek chorus of nods from his fellow selectmen.

According to Dan Gobeil, technical services director at the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport Wells Water District (KKWWD), the utility plans to extend its line some 775 feet up Ocean Avenue past Walker’s Point. That work is being done this fall at the request of a resident who wants to connect to the quasi-municipal water system, and is paying for the privilege of doing so.

However, with a moratorium in the offing that will bar additional drilling into the roadway until 2021, the water district is giving the olly-olly-oxen-free to any other potential customers along the route.

“We have a long and colorful history of interaction with property owners along Ocean Avenue and the side neighborhoods,” Gobeil said. “I have an idea that once word gets out that we have a project brewing, we’re likely to get a number on enquires from a number of other residents.”

With as many as 50 homes in the area, Selectman Patrick Brigg brings wondered aloud at the Feb. 12 meeting why the KKWWD doesn’t install its water main past all those homes while the road is open this fall, and then make individual connections as requested.

“The devil is in the details of who pays to put that connection in,” said Gobeil, ballparking the cost of water line construction at $200 per foot.

“That’s a huge commitment and we don’t have the fi- nancial wherewithal to speculate on spending ratepayer money just to put a pipe in the road in anticipation of someone in the future tying on to it,” he said.

Gobeil said the more residents who connect, the lower the construction cost for all. However, he stressed the upcoming project is slated to happen regardless and he’s not recruiting addition customers to lower costs for the one, definite hook-up.

The real concern, he said, is that once Ocean Avenue is buttoned up with a new layer of pavement in 2016, no one in that area will have the option of connecting to the water district for five years, because of the moratorium.

In a letter issued Feb. 13 to residents in the area, the town asked anyone interested in connecting to the KKWWD water supply to contact Gobeil before April 28. He can be reached by calling 985-2285, or email dgobeil@kkw.org.

Depending on the level of public interest in the project, KKWWD and the town may conduct an informational meeting with homeowners “in early summer.”

According to Smith, if enough homeowners in the area are interested in expanded water service, the town may delay the start of the Ocean Avenue reconstruction project until 2016 “to allow for all projects to proceed in a coordinated fashion.”

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