AUGUSTA — A proposal to change the unique and specific zoning rules in place around the intersection of Route 3 and Church Hill Road is up for a council vote Thursday.

The Riggs Brook Village zoning district, which is divided into four quadrants, each with its own specific set of zoning rules, was created in 2001 as city officials anticipated the area would see a development boom following the 2004 construction of the Cushnoc Crossing Bridge, more commonly known as the third bridge. According to City Manager William Bridgeo, the zoning was meant to encourage a mix of residential and high-quality commercial development along the Route 3 corridor that leads to the coast.

The boom never came, and officials think the zoning rules in place there have hindered development. A city subcommittee drafted new rules for the area that are more like zoning rules in the rest of the city. The proposal has won the support of the Planning Board and could be approved by councilors Thursday.

Matt Nazar, city development director, said the changes eliminate or modify some of the more confusing aspects of the district’s current zoning rules. He said significant changes include replacement of the four quadrants into which the district was divided with a single district; reduction of the minimum allowed lot size; removal of building design requirements for additions to existing buildings, which Nazar said has been a “serious impediment” in a number of projects; and removal of rules favoring subdivision lots in larger planned mixed-use developments over individual lot-splitting, because, Nazar said, that style of development is not used by most developers in Maine.

No members of the public and no city officials spoke about the proposal when it was up for the first of two required readings Nov. 20.

David Smith, who was involved in creating the Riggs Brook district, said previously it was created when there were concerns commercial development in the city had gotten out of control and existing ordinances, some of which have since been amended and updated to strengthen them, were inadequate to protect the city’s residential neighborhoods. He said another goal was to protect the scenic vista around Route 3. He said he thinks the rules that emerged back then went too far.


Councilors are scheduled to conduct the second reading and take a final vote on the proposed changes at their meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Augusta City Center.

Councilors are also scheduled to:

• consider permanently adopting changes to the city’s nighttime parking ban for snow removal to allow overnight parking on the left, or east, side of Commercial Street;

• consider authorizing the city manager to accept $5,000 in grant funding from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety for traffic safety education to teach Cony High School students about the dangers of distracted driving;

• read a proclamation declaring Thursday to be American Community Project Day in Augusta; and

• consider presenting a historic-building plaque to Karen Wilcox, owner of the George W. Jones House on Winter Street.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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