New North Yarmouth panel to work with planning firm

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A new oversight committee will work with a planning firm on major decisions facing the town.

Planning Decisions, a Portland firm hired by the town to aid it in that process, heard input at Town Hall June 11 from town committee members and other residents.

The 35 people who attended expressed support for the Comprehensive Plan, “and so whatever we do should be done in the context” of that plan, Board of Selectman Chairman Steve Palmer said last week.

The oversight committee, to be composed of up to five residents, will “make sure that we understand what it is that this town wants us to do,” serving as a liaison between the town and Planning Decisions, Palmer said. “That’s a critical part. Once we get a sense of what the town wants us to do, then we can proceed with getting there.”

It’s a time of significant decisions for North Yarmouth, which is considering what to do with two important pieces of property: the vacant land where Wescustogo Hall stood before it was destroyed by fire last August, and North Yarmouth Memorial School, which School Administrative District 51 is closing at the end of June and giving to the town.

The Comprehensive Plan was produced in the 1990s, with an addendum in 2003, Palmer said.

Concern was expressed at the meeting about the town’s time-line in moving forward, the chairman explained.

“I think that there has been some concern that we’ve been proceeding too slowly,” he said. “… Other people just want to know, basically, what are we projecting for … finishing this up and getting us to the point where decisions can be made that allow us to vote on what it is that this town ultimately is going to do.”

Palmer said he expects that Planning Decisions in the coming weeks will formulate a response to the meeting, and develop a comparative analysis of North Yarmouth and similar communities.

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

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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.