North Yarmouth to vote on establishment of Charter Commission

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Residents will vote Tuesday, Nov. 8, on a referendum question that asks whether the town should form a Charter Commission.

The commission would evidently be the first to review the Town Charter since the document was established in 1982, Selectman Rob Wood said last week.

He said minor tweaks have been allowed at Town Meeting, “but the whole structure has not … to our knowledge been changed since (the charter’s) inception.”

In the years since, “we’ve doubled the size of the town,” Wood said. “We still have the administrative assistant-selectmen form of government, which many people think works, but some people don’t. And it’s a structure which requires major decisions to be made once a year, which has tied our hands.”

An alternative form of government would be the town manager-town council system, such as in neighboring Cumberland. That format would allow the council to make immediate decisions, but would eliminate Town Meeting.

Wood suggested that an option in between those types of systems could be a possibility, too.

If voters approve the referendum question, the commission’s members will be elected next June. That panel will review the charter over a period of about 18 months. Any recommendations for change will eventually go to Town Meeting.

“I think all of us like the fact that it’s got to come back to the town for passage,” Wood said.

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.