FRYEBURG – At a selectmen’s workshop held Thursday, the board and a handful of residents looked to the future of the town and its relationship with its water resources.

“The bottom line is we’re all frustrated,” said David Knapp, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

The workshop was characterized on the town’s Web site as describing potential changes to the land use ordinance in the areas of bulk water extraction, processing, and shipping. In 2005, Fryeburg passed a moratorium on bulk water extraction, which has been renewed up to the present. This November, voters passed a six-month moratorium on bulk water processing and transportation.

The moratoriums do not apply to the WE Corp. or Little Mountain Spring, which were constructed prior to the votes. The extraction moratorium, which prohibits new permits for extraction of over 10,000 gallons of water, does not apply to agricultural uses.

The processing and transport moratorium, which passed in November, applies retroactively to permits issued after Jan. 1, 2005. The referendum question charged the town’s land use ordinance with being “inadequate to prevent serious public harm for commercial or industrial development in the affected geographic area.”

The moratorium question was presented by a member of Western Maine Residents for Rural Living, a group opposed to the construction of a proposed Poland Spring water trucking facility on Route 302. The facility would fill a maximum of 50 tankers per day with water piped in from a Denmark aquifer.

The Western Maine Residents charge that the facility’s proposed location is in a rural residential zone, and argue that the facility will increase traffic hazards and noise on the road. The Planning Board has determined that the facility does not constitute a low-impact business.

“The workshop was specifically designed to address those conditions that allowed us to create the moratoriums to begin with,” said Knapp.

Knapp said that while the land use ordinance will be looked at, he does not think it is the only way to address the concerns that led to the moratoriums. This year, a set of proposed changes to the land use ordinance was voted down at town meeting.

Specifically, Knapp said the existing facilities in town may still extract and transport water or sell it to Poland Spring. Knapp said this process may be stopped if the Fryeburg Water District, created in 2006, purchases the assets of the privately-owned Fryeburg Water Company. Knapp said the Water Company sells to Poland Spring through the Little Mountain Spring facility.

The water district has the power of eminent domain, and may use it to acquire the assets. Dick Krasker, chairman of the board of trustees of the district, said eminent domain is “the last thing you want to do.”

“We are interested in purchasing the Fryeburg Water Company. The Fryeburg Water Company is not interested in selling,” said Krasker. “When the two get together, we’ll move.”

Krasker said he has received requests to use eminent domain, but feels that the issue would be divisive and costly. He said water customers would receive higher bills due to the costs of the action.

Krasker said he was not sure how the relationship with Poland Spring would be affected if the district acquires the company’s assets.

“That’s something to be determined in the future,” said Krasker. “Anything the district does, as far as selling water, will be based on hydrological information and science.”

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