CUMBERLAND — Voters overwhelmingly approved a Town Council decision to grant a contract zone for a credit union on Main Street, and elected Karen Campbell to the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors in the only contested race in Tuesday’s election.
Total turnout Tuesday was 33 percent of the town’s nearly 6,000 registered voters. Town officials said Wednesday that June election turnout is usually closer to 20 percent.
Eighty percent, or 1,533 of the 1,906 people who voted, backed the council’s decision to allow Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union to build a branch at the former Chase Flower Shop property. Twenty percent, or 363, voted no in an effort to overturn the council’s decision. Ten ballots were blank.
The vote came after a sometimes heated debate over whether businesses – or contract zones – should be encouraged in the town’s center. A lawsuit filed by residents Andrew Baca and Melissa Gattine against the town was stayed pending the result of the referendum.
Shortly before the election, the couple would not say whether they would continue with the lawsuit if voters OK’d the credit union, only that at the time of filing, they were working under a 30-day deadline after the council’s vote and felt the lawsuit was the best way to protect their property rights.
Town Manager Bill Shane said Wednesday morning that he suspects the lawsuit will move forward, but that it’s unlikely to succeed given the Town Council vote and the town’s overwhelming support.
Tuesday’s results, he said, are a “strong signal of the town’s support for the council’s decision and support to have a bank again on Main Street as it was years ago. I think it’s safe to say the project will go forward.”
Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union CEO Roger Sirois said Wednesday that he was pleased with the results, and glad to see the democratic process work in the credit union’s favor. “Allowing the residents to take their time to vote is a right we all have, and should have,” he said. In this case, he said, “the residents have stated their case.”
The credit union’s site plan will have to go before the Planning Board for review, where public comment will again be welcome. Shane said he expects the Planning Board will see the proposal in July, though the time frame depends on the results of the law suit.
In the race for the SAD 51 school board seat, Campbell defeated Michael Brown 932-644. Campbell is a stay-at-home mom with three children in the school system. She was not available for comment Wednesday morning.
Running uncontested, incumbent Councilors Ron Copp, Shirley Storey-King and George Turner were re-elected to terms that extend through 2012.
Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.