North Yarmouth certifies petition for alternate referendum on village development

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NORTH YARMOUTH — The Board of Selectmen is expected to vote Sept. 1 on an updated November referendum warrant, which will include two opposing questions on Village Center development.

A citizens group that includes former Selectmen Paul Napolitano, Mark Verrill and Linc Merrill recently organized a petition that opposes the Board of Selectmen’s recommendation to redevelop North Yarmouth Memorial School as a municipal and community campus.

The opponents on Aug. 11 submitted 335 signatures to Town Clerk Debbie Grover, who certified 316 of them. Only 218 valid signatures, or 10 percent of the registered voters in the most recent gubernatorial election, were needed to place the question on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Town Manager Rosemary Roy now plans to bring the Board of Selectmen an updated special election warrant for the referendum, which will include both the original and opposing questions.

The board has also recommended selling the existing Town Hall for housing or commercial development, and to create a municipal sewer system to help facilitate new development. The panel approved that recommendation in February by a 4-1 vote, with then-Selectman Napolitano opposed.

The competing petition calls for the town to:

• “Immediately terminate making any expenditures and performing any work to study or to develop a Municipal sewer system.”

• Rebuild Wescustogo Hall, the community gathering place destroyed by fire in August 2013, as called for in a 1997 agreement with the town.

• Keep the existing Town Hall and its property, and make any necessary renovations or additions over time.

• Request proposals for the school building, including public or private uses, and senior housing.

• Gather citizen feedback on all of the proposals received, and send a recommended plan for the school to a town vote.

Grover had expressed concern that the two competing questions could be confusing to voters, pointing out the importance of both sides educating voters about the choices.

Alex Carr, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said last month that there will be one or two public discussions before November. A formal public hearing on the proposal must also be held no later than Oct. 24.

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

Two separate questions on November’s referendum in North Yarmouth will ask whether the North Yarmouth Memorial School, closed last year, should be redeveloped as a munciipal campus, or if proposals for other non-municipal uses should be sought.

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.