North Yarmouth rejects Village Center development proposal

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NORTH YARMOUTH — An election season that saw dueling Village Center development questions duke it out culminated Tuesday with voters rejecting a development proposal backed by the Board of Selectmen.

Question 2, the result of a successful citizen petition, passed 812-637, according to unofficial results. It defeated Question 1, the option supported by selectmen and the town’s Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, which failed 935-526.

Of 3,110 registered voters, 48 percent of registered residents cast ballots, according to Town Clerk Debbie Grover.

Question 1 called for North Yarmouth Memorial School, closed in June 2014, to be redeveloped as a municipal and community campus. The existing Town Hall would have been sold for housing or commercial development, and a municipal sewer system would have been created on the school property to help facilitate new development at that site.

Question 2 opposed the selectmen’s plan, and called first for the town to cease all spending and work concerning the study or development of a sewer system.

It also pushes for Wescustogo Hall – the community gathering place destroyed by fire in August 2013 – to be rebuilt as stipulated in a 1997 agreement with the town; for the current Town Hall to be maintained and renovated; for proposals to be sought for the school building; for citizen feedback to be garnered on all proposals, and for any plans for the school to be sent to a town vote.

“We’re ecstatic,” Linc Merrill, a former selectman and Grange member who helped spearhead Question 2, said Tuesday night. “We don’t really believe that the sides are that far apart. … What we need to do is regroup and actually have a plan, where we analyze all of the information.”

Audrey Lones, a member of the Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, Tuesday night said the vote was unfortunate. “I think people would have supported Question 1, but were concerned about the sewer piece, (and) didn’t understand it fully,” she said.

“I think that the supporters of Question 1 did a good job of running an honest campaign, as opposed to trying to instill fear and untruths … to people, and twisting the facts,” Lones added.

The Board of Selectmen was scheduled to discuss the referendum results Wednesday.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Theron Hamilton submits a ballot as ballot clerk Steven Smith looks on during Tuesday’s referendum in North Yarmouth. Along with state ballot questions, residents were asked to decide between two town Village Center development questions.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.