AUGUSTA — City councilors voted on Thursday to replace the zoning rules in force in part of the east side of the city centered along Route 3, seeking to align them more closely with zoning in the rest of Augusta.

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 after 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.

However the development 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 was approved by councilors unanimously and without debate on 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 allowable 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 that style of development is not used by most developers in Maine according to Nazar.

Also Thursday, councilors read a proclamation declaring Thursday as American Community Project Day in the city.

The American Community Project was organized by Augusta residents Dan Emery and Myles Chung, who returned this week from a 331-day, almost 18,000-mile trip to all 48 of the lower states, raising awareness of and exploring solutions to hunger. They traveled on motorscooters, which have a top speed of only around 40 mph.

Mayor David Rollins said he never could have done such an ambitious trip.

“I admire your gumption,” Rollins said before reading the proclamation. “This sounds like a life-changing event. Congratulations.”

Emery brought his scooter, a Honda Ruckus, its fenders and Maine license plate still covered in brown dirt, into the council chamber for the presentation.

The pair said they hope to help implement here in central Maine some of the anti-hunger programs that seemed successful at sites they visited while traveling across the country and back.

A story on Emery and Chung’s American Community Project trip is planned for Monday’s paper.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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