Question on Norway rural village development on warrant

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NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen has voted to place a question on whether to amend the town’s Site Plan Review Ordinance on the annual town meeting ballot in June.

At the 2016 town meeting, voters approved a 180-day moratorium on industrial and commercial development in four rural villages:

• Swift’s Corner — The area around the four-way intersection of Morse Road, Norway Center Road, Patch Mountain Road and Round the Pond Road;

• Noble’s Corner — The area around the intersection of Greenwood Road and Round the Pond Road;

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• Norway Center — The area around the intersection of Norway Center Road and Morrill Road; and

• Chapel District — The area around the four-way intersection of Wiley, French, Dunn and Morse roads.

The moratorium does not restrict home-based businesses, as defined in the Site Plan Review Ordinance, residential development or agricultural businesses.

Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman told residents at a 2016 public hearing that the moratorium would give officials time to determine the potential impacts of future projects.

Selectmen extended the moratorium in January to give the committee more time to work on the amendments.

During Thursday’s meeting, Town Manager David Holt told the board that “more people come to the ballot to vote,” but expressed concern that with “no presidential election or anything of that nature,” turnout could be lower than usual.

“I would say we could expect around 300 or 400 people to vote if it were a ballot question,” Holt said. “If the question were decided by a show of hands at the annual town meeting, in recent years, we’ve seen around 100 people show up, give or take.”

Selectman Thomas Curtis asked Holt if there was any special benefit to having residents vote on the question at the ballot rather than by a show of hands.

“Well, if you vote on the question at the town meeting, it gives more of a chance for debate,” Holt replied. “If you put the question on the ballot, the public hearing before the vote becomes much more important.”

Chairman Russell Newcomb said that whenever there’s a choice of voting on a question via ballot or by a show of hands, “I generally favor it being a ballot question with the hope that more folks will come out and vote on it.”

“I don’t know that I really care either way on this particular question, but I’d like to see as many folks give their input as possible,” he said.

mdaigle@sunmediagroup.net

The four North Norway villages addressed in the proposed Site Plan Review Ordinance amendment are indicated in the Norway Comprehensive Plan map. The Board of Selectmen voted Thursday evening to place a question on whether to amend the town’s Site Plan Review Ordinance on the annual town meeting ballot in June.

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