On the Right Lane: Build it and they will come


“Build it and he will come.”
The Voice from “Field of Dreams”  

Isn’t it amazing that so many people believe the quote from the “Field of Dreams” is just a little different than it is? So with a change coming in the management of Windham I know I am not alone when it comes to hoping someone will take control of the growth of this town. In the pipeline right now are several construction projects that will place financial burdens upon the town and the school unit as well. That’s all fine and dandy if such growth is planned for, but  sadly that is not true as far as I can see. I still remember years ago when someone at a Town Council meeting said that they didn’t want the Route 302 business corridor in North Windham to look like Route 1 in Scarborough or Falmouth. I stated then that it was already too late. Decades later, nothing has changed as far as the appearance of North Windham goes, although some at Town Hall keep promising that the award-winning 21st Century Downtown Plan will fix all of North Windham’s problems.

But, and a huge but it is, Windham’s growth elsewhere is just as bad if not worse. Truthfully, some of that growth actually looks fairly nice while elsewhere it appears buildings are being squeezed in neighborhoods where they don’t fit in all that well. I firmly believe zoning laws should remain firm and solid, and it seems like more areas are being allowed for denser growth under the conditions of an overlay zone. Make no mistake about it, an overlay zone is just a legal way to get around spot zoning, which has been declared illegal in many places. If there is a way to get around zoning regulations, then why have any zoning laws in the first place?

Before someone attempts to say I am against property rights, I am not. If one lives in a zone where property can be subdivided, say to give land to a relative so that they can build a home, I am absolutely in favor of that. I don’t care if they extend a driveway or a cow path in order to do so but it has to be with an understanding the access to that land is entirely the financial responsibility of the land owner, period. Private roads are exactly that, private. When one purchases a home or property, they should be fully informed as to what they are getting into. That includes knowing the builder or developer has done everything proper and legal. That’s called personal responsibility.

I sincerely hope that once new management of Windham comes into play, Windham will begin and settle for a better plan for its future, including growth. I don’t want to point where growth has downgraded the appearance of our town because all one has to do is drive by those areas and it’s blatantly obvious. At the same time, Windham has had a serious problem with private roads, perhaps many of which should never have been constructed as private roads in the first place. Truthfully I just see it as a way for a developer to cut costs. What’s funny here is that the town plows private roads that have public easements. Why is it funny? Even the state of Maine recommends not doing that because public easements can be easily changed, even by one land owner.

I have to wonder if the impact fees collected by the town are really adequate enough to cover the additional costs of services needed because of more residents. You know, the costs of additional town and school staff to say nothing about when schools will have to have even larger buildings for classrooms. Actually right now I wonder if those impacts fees that are collected are being used properly.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham might be dreaming the next American revolution is coming soon.