Norway holds hearing to eliminate street parking, left turn

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NORWAY — There may be six fewer parking spaces on Main Street come July as town officials attempt to find a way to improve visibility for traffic entering Main Street from Pikes Hill.

The plan, which is being proposed to accommodate the expected increase of traffic from the new $8.2 million Western Maine Medical office building, includes making the base of Pikes Hill a right turn only.

pikes hill, Norway

A public hearing will be held on Thursday, July 2, during the 7 p.m. selectmen’s meeting to discuss proposed changes to the parking ordinance that will eliminate parking on Main Street by the Advertiser-Democrat building and designate the right turn only.

The proposed plan would allow the Maine Department of Transportation to issue a traffic flow permit for the new medical building that is under construction. The building is expected to open in January.

Town Manager David Holt told selectmen last week that four to six spots on Main Street by the Advertiser Democrat would be eliminated. That’s the least restrictive way to provide safe traffic flow once the medical building opens, he said. Other ideas included making the lower section of Pikes Hill one way.

In April, the Planning Board unanimously approved, with conditions, the site plan application for a medical office building downtown.

The 25,000-square-foot office complex is being built on an eight-acre lot purchased by Western Maine Health about seven years ago. The site is the former C.B. Cummings & Sons wood mill on Pikes Hill.

The application approval was given with four conditions: a Maine Department of Transportation traffic movement permit must be obtained; a maintenance plan for catch basins and erosion control must be submitted; a sign plan, which will be approved by the code enforcement officer, must also be submitted and the noise of the roof mechanics must comply with required decibel levels.

The Planning Board had focused its attention on concerns about more traffic at the intersection of Main and Whitman streets and Pikes Hill. MDOT employees have been on site in the past month to determine how to best route the traffic, which is expected to increased significantly from the medical building.

As part of the project, the Ripley Medical Building, adjacent to the Stephens Memorial Hospital, will undergo a $1.8 million renovation. It will become the home of Western Maine Pediatrics and its other occupants will move to the new building.

The driving force behind the expansion is a growth in outpatient care, Barbara Allen, vice president of community relations, said last year.

Western Maine Health has 12 affiliated medical entities, including Stephens Memorial Hospital on lower Main Street.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net