North Yarmouth selectmen OK development vote ballot language

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NORTH YARMOUTH — The Board of Selectmen on July 21 unanimously approved special Town Meeting warrant language for a ballot question that will decide the future of the Village Center.

Selectmen previously voted that North Yarmouth Memorial School – closed last year – will be redeveloped as a municipal and community campus. The town would sell its existing Town Hall for commercial development or housing, while a municipal sewer system would be created to help facilitate new development.

The Nov. 3 referendum will ask voters to authorize selectmen to:

  • Create “a municipal and community campus on the Memorial School parcel by renovating and reusing a portion of the school facility,” which includes its gym.
  • Sell current Town Hall property for either residential or commercial development, or both, in order to boost both the tax and employment bases.
  • And create a “sewer system infrastructure” to facilitate those two proposals, “and stimulate future village development as envisioned in the Town Comprehensive Plan while protecting the aquifer resource.”

Voters will check “yes” or “no” once.

Alex Carr, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said July 23 that while the panel has placed the question on the ballot, part of the process of informing citizens about the proposal will be a public discussion.

He said there will be one or two public discussions; a formal public hearing on the proposal must be held no later than Oct. 24.

“I personally want to see that debate happen; that’s good for small government,” Carr said, noting that such a discussion would normally happen at Town Meeting. In this case, though, the question will be decided at referendum.

“Selectmen in general are more than welcome to express their personal opinions,” Carr explained. “The board has not reached consensus on how to sell this plan, or whether it should even be sold.”

He noted that the board’s membership has changed since the February vote. Selectman Jeanne Chadbourne was recently elected to replace former Selectman Paul Napolitano, and a vote will be held in September to replace former Selectman Clark Whittier, who resigned June 30.

“We’re respecting the vote of the board from February to put this proposal forward,” Carr said, but added that the panel was recently asked by members of the town’s Economic Development and Sustainability Committee to step back and let other interested citizens “carry the ball on this one.”

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

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.