North Yarmouth could vote on development options in January

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Early next year could be a pivotal time for the town, with voters potentially deciding what to do with two important properties, and how much to develop the village center.

The next step in the Village Center Redevelopment Process Timeline, as posted at northyarmouth.org and subject to change, is a public question-and-answer meeting at Town Hall at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Planning Decisions, a Portland firm hired by the town to aid it in major decisions it faces, will present different development scenarios and their potential impacts, and the meeting will also include the results of the town’s tax increment financing study.

Among the big decisions the town must make: What to do with the vacant land where Wescustogo Hall stood before it was destroyed by fire in August 2013, and with North Yarmouth Memorial School, which School Administrative District 51 closed in June and gave to the town. Additionally, residents must decide what kind of development is most appropriate for the center of town.

Planning Decisions will present its recommendations at a Board of Selectmen meeting Nov. 18. Two days later, selectmen will discuss those recommendations with staff, engineers and town committee members.

The regular Board of Selectmen meetings on Dec. 2 and 16, and Jan. 6, 2015, will have opportunities for residents to ask questions and offer comments on the proposals. A public presentation on the redevelopment options is to be held Jan. 7 by the board, which will discuss that feedback in a workshop Jan. 14.

Selectmen on Jan. 20 may discuss a proposed special Town Meeting warrant and timing of that meeting, where voters would act on redeveloping the village center, along with how to fund those actions.

One mailer has already gone out to residents to notify them about the process, with another planned.

Town Manager Rosemary Roy stressed the importance last week of residents being part of the process, being educated, and offering input along the way.

“It’s a big decision,” she said. “It involves all of us.”

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.