KINGFIELD – Selectmen Monday voted unanimously to hold a special town meeting for residents to decide if they want a moratorium on big industrial projects.
The meeting will be held on May 18 at the Kingfield Elementary School.
Before voting on the date of the meeting, selectmen rejected a moratorium petition put forth by the group Citizens for Our Right to Vote because of a procedural error.
That moratorium petition states voting should take place by “secret ballot,” which is not a legal voting practice in Kingfield for town affairs, said John Dill, selectman. “The town never adopted secret ballot statute petitions,” he said.
The suggested moratorium would prevent Planning Board members from reviewing permit applications for big industrial projects for six months, according to board Chairman David Guernsey. The proposal came just days after bottling giant Poland Spring Water Co. met with the board to discuss preliminary plans for an application to build a bottling plant in town.
According to Susan Mason, a moratorium proponent, having six months breathing room would allow the town to add industrial zones to the town land-use ordinance – a move called for more than 10 years ago when the town voted to accept its comprehensive plan.
But in a meeting held immediately following the selectmen’s meeting, Planning Board members who had convened to vote on a date for the public hearing questioned if the lack of industrial zones goes against the comprehensive plan.
Guernsey said that according to the board’s lawyer Andy Hamilton, because the zoning laws were made after the comprehensive plan was put into effect and “over the years the town voters have never chosen to question the plan” or the zoning laws, “our zoning ordinance is not inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.”
“The fact is, there’s never been a need – or desire – to create an industrial zone.” Guernsey also said he worried if a moratorium on big industrial projects is put into effect, it might adversely effect other business owners. Even restaurants fall under the definition of “industrial” in Kingfield’s existing zoning ordinance.
Board members voted unanimously that the public hearing on the proposed zoning changes will take place on May 1, with the time and place to be decided.