Effort to restrict growth on pond fails

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RANGELEY – Due to a tie vote Thursday night, a citizens’ petition to rezone Round Pond to limit growth and protect the pond was rejected.

Town Manager Perry Ellsworth said Friday that because there were 143 votes for and 143 against, the measure failed.

The petition would have rezoned about 600 acres of mostly undeveloped land around the pond with some of it shoreland and some woodland. It would have changed lot- size limits and setbacks.

The existing ordinance allows for one-acre lots to be developed, but petitioners wanted to make minimum size lots of 20 acres and limited to residential use of single-family homes and bed and breakfasts.

The amended ordinance would also have prohibited commercial, agricultural, industrial, parks and campground use.

Thursday’s meeting got under way an hour late because there was a long line of people waiting to register to vote at the special town meeting, Ellsworth said.

Once under way, presentations were made and voters called for a secret ballot, and 288 ballots were cast with two of them considered void, he said. One was a valid ballot but not filled in, and the other was not a valid ballot, he said.

There were about 350 people there, Ellsworth said.

According to the warrant article that reflected the wording in the petition, which the Rangeley Crossroads Coalition helped draft, Round Pond is one of four ponds within Rangeley that are included on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection list of lakes most at risk from new development.

Round Pond is the only one whose shoreline and surrounding watershed have not been significantly subdivided or otherwise developed, and it is essential to protect the uniquely natural character and water quality of Round Pond for the benefit of current and future generations of Rangeley residents, according to the document.

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