Policies, not an ordinance, might be the way for Wiscasset to go on its sidewalks, according to participants in a workshop on Zoom Monday night. “Policies are flexible,” ordinance review committee chair Karl Olson said. He said selectmen have not specified what they want the ordinance to accomplish. And from what he was hearing, he said it sounded like policies might be better.
Merchants would prefer it, Friends of Wiscasset Village members told the ORC and Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission staff.
“The businesses and people we’ve spoken with would be super thrilled with that,” Friends’ Chris Erickson said. “Ordinance always has a bit of an authoritarian ring to it.” Erickson suggested guidelines be merchant-friendly, such as with tables, clothes racks and event banners allowed, while maintaining safety and aesthetics. Safety should come first and foremost, he said.
Olson said COVID-19 has shown the need for outdoor displays and eating. “And I don’t think that’ll be something that just goes away. People are just going to get used to it.”
LCRPC Executive Director Mary Ellen Barnes said very few towns have such stunning sidewalks. She suggested some minimal guidelines and a quick permitting process be developed.
Olson said the ORC can tell selectmen through Town Manager Dennis Simmons, it is thinking more toward sidewalk policies, not an ordinance, and will work on policies unless the board says not to. The committee serves at the board’s pleasure, Olson noted.