Revised charter, development plan on tap for North Yarmouth
NORTH YARMOUTH — Votes on a revised Town Charter, as well as the first phase of an economic development plan for the town center, are on the horizon this year.
A property revaluation is also expected to take effect this summer.
The Charter Commission, which is charged with reviewing North Yarmouth’s 30-year-old Town Charter and potentially recommending changes in the town’s governmental structure, began meeting last August.
The commission, which is independent of the Board of Selectmen, will gather initial input through this month and then prepare its preliminary report in time for a vote in June on a revised charter.
Administrative Assistant Marnie Diffin said last month that she heard speculation the commission could suggest moving Town Meeting from June to April, expanding the Board of Selectmen from five to seven members, and possibly hiring a town manager.
The property revaluation is underway and should go into effect in August.
The town is assessing properties at 110 percent of market value, and the revaluation is intended to bring that level closer to 100 percent, "so that what you’re valuing someone’s property is basically close to what they could get in the open market," Diffin said.
Also on tap for discussion this year is a four-phase economic development plan for the town center, which could go to a workshop next month.
The Economic Development and Sustainability Committee has gathered ideas for how to make the most of 114 acres of town-owned land in the village center. The committee’s recommendations could go to a public vote at the June Town Meeting.
A recommendation in the first phase is development of a triangular area of North Yarmouth into a more visible, inviting and active town center. That triangle, which includes Town Hall, runs from the intersection of Route 9 and Route 115, down Route 115 to Parsonage Road, and back along Route 9 to the intersection with Route 115.
The second phase would include development of a business park at the spent, town-owned Cassidy Pit, on Walnut Hill Parkway. A lot would be retained for a possible future location of Public Works.
A third phase depends upon closure of North Yarmouth Memorial School, which will go to a vote in School Administrative District 75 in June. If that happens, the committee calls for the town to obtain the title to the school building and develop it as a 37-unit elderly housing project.
A day-care component would be eyed for the space, and public rights to the library and gym would be retained. A nearby property would be retained for future use as an elementary school.
The fourth phase would see the Public Works site vacated, with the department either regionalized or moved to the business park. The area would be converted to affordable workforce housing, as well as cottage-style housing allowing people to downsize and retire to the town center area.