NORWAY – The Planning Board will determine if a local used car dealer needs site plan approval to continue the business on a lot next to the historic Norway Memorial Library.

Half a dozen used and accident-damaged cars suddenly showed up on the Main Street site, which is part of the National Historic District, about a week ago, causing a stir in the community.

The property at 256 Main St. is owned by Madeline Pratt. Fire consumed a century-old rooming house in the winter of 2007, leaving the Main Street lot vacant until recently when the used cars showed up.

Town Manager David Holt said the Planning Board will meet Thursday night to discuss whether the business must have a site plan approval. That process, which usually involves a public hearing, looks at factors such as safety in determining whether a business can operate or how it will operate on a specific site.

“I don’t think anyone involved is particularly happy, but it’s the process we have,” said Holt about addressing the concerns of the community.

If the business must go through a site plan review, it may not stop the business but it could change the way the business is conducted on the site, he said.

“We’re acting consistently with what our ordinances are and our past practices,” Holt said.

Pratt said the Norway Memorial Library had leased the property from her but recently decided not to renew the lease. At that time, she said she leased it to Kevin Wiles, who operates the used car lot. Wiles could not be reached for comment.

“What difference does it make?” said Pratt when asked about the car dealership’s proximity to the historic library building.

“Why didn’t they lease it?” asked Pratt when told about the concerns some people have about the new business.

Library Director Ann Siekman said Friday that they had used money from an anonymous donor to pay for the lease in an effort to keep the area looking nice, but that money did not materialize this year and the trustees were faced with not renewing the lease.

“We thought it would be a good deed, making it nicer,” she said of the library’s effort to keep the lot mowed and seeded and planting gardens.

While the trustees attempted to discuss the sale of the lot with the owner, that effort also fell through. “It didn’t work out,” Siekman said.

“We were willing to continue to maintain it, but we couldn’t afford the lease.”


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