BUCKFIELD – By a secret ballot vote of 27-25, residents defeated instituting a 180-day ban on applications for new subdivisions.

New Planning Board member Kennard Hicks said the board has 69 permits pending, and there are four new members on the board who need time to get proper training.

“This is a volunteer board, and when I took my pledge, I thought I was doing something for the town. We’re just asking for the help of a 180-day halt.”

“We’ve got enough rules and regulations,” said James Young. “It’s time to come to a halt on the rules, not building. If you have land, you should be able to build a house. It will also impact sales of land to potential developers.”

Judy Berg said the two reasons a moratorium could be granted are: if the town doesn’t have facilities for the number of people expected; or the town doesn’t have the proper regulation in place to protect the public.

“It is not to get the Planning Board up to snuff,” she said.

Addressing a concerns of whether land could be given to a family member, Planning Board Chairman Dick Piper said family members don’t count as subdivisions unless the owner sells the land to a member at full assessed value. He added that the board hoped the Comprehensive Plan would be approved within the 180 days, which would serve as more guidance for the board.

Fred Cooper asked what the growth had been in Buckfield in the last few years.

Town Manager Glen Holmes said the growth had been steady and other nearby towns are seeing dramatic growth. A handout to the voters showed that 14 residential permits had been issued in 2006 and three homes have been completed in subdivisions this year. There are currently eight subdivisions in Buckfield.

School Board member Nick DiMaio said Buckfield can expect to see a 12 percent increase in education costs this year.

“We need to increase the tax base,” he said.

Piper said new homes don’t come without added costs, such as roads, maintenance, schools, expanded Fire Department and ambulance services.

After the vote, Piper said, “This was what the people wanted. Down the road, who knows?”

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