GREENWOOD – A controversial land ordinance will not go to the annual town meeting, but it may return at a special meeting later.

Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday not to place the land management standards ordinance on the warrant for the March 28 meeting.

However, the board also unanimously accepted a petition from resident Alan Hamilton asking for the ordinance to be placed on the warrant. Selectmen have 60 days to respond to the petition, and could bring the ordinance to a special town meeting.

The stated purpose of the ordinance is to implement the standards of the town’s comprehensive plan, conserve natural resources, provide for orderly growth and promote public health and safety. Chairwoman Loretta Mikols said the 37-page ordinance would replace the current document, less than a page in length, which mainly addresses lot sizes and building heights.

The ordinance and Hamilton’s petition drew comments from a standing-room-only crowd. Several criticized the document as vague and restrictive.

“The ordinance, throughout the whole thing, is very subjective,” resident Nancy Stearns said. “I think it would be irresponsible to move forward with it at this point.”

David DeGruttola, a forestry consultant, said the town did not follow the Maine Forest Practices Act in creating the ordinance because officials did not consult a professional forester before drafting it.

The ordinance sets development standards, as well as guidelines for applications and appeals. It creates districts for the Locke Mills village, general growth, woodland and resort development.

It establishes overlay districts for Greenwood Road and ridgelines and hills. It states that the purpose of the first overlay district is to maintain the “visual qualities and appearance of development” on the road, which passes several lakes and is canopied by trees.

Under the ordinance, structures would have to be set back at least 75 feet from the road and no tree clearing could occur within 60 feet of the road except for safety purposes and selective cutting of smaller trees.

The ridgeline overlay seeks to preserve the “scenic and ecological resources” of the town’s ridges and slopes. It states that no development can occur on “the tops of significant ridgelines” unless several standards are met, including that all structures be on slopes of less than 15 percent grade. The ordinance also states that development on the ridges and slopes must blend in with the landscape.

Resident Brian Dunham said the ordinance would devalue properties in the town and is not compliant with Greenwood’s terrain. He said it was being pushed forward by a special-interest group.

“All you people come in from across the damn border and put up your ordinances,” Dunham said. “Don’t come to us and say you want to take our rights away from us.”

Hamilton said he did not have any agenda in supporting the ordinance.

“I’m not going to excuse myself for working so darn hard on something for the people of Greenwood,” he said.

Some residents spoke in favor of putting the ordinance on the warrant. Resident Henry Stewart said amendments could be made to the ordinance to address any problems after a vote.

“We’ve had very few problems, at least over the past couple of years,” Stewart said.

Resident Betsey Foster said a land management ordinance was needed to make sure development is done correctly and to give the Planning Board a basis from which to work.

Board Chairwoman Mikols said she was concerned that the ordinance might not be legal or defensible and needed more work before it could go to vote.

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