AUBURN — Councilors on Monday favored the wards similar to the ones they know over changing boundaries built around city neighborhoods.

“The spoke wards we have now allow every councilor to represent some rural areas and some downtown,” Councilor Mary LaFontaine said. “I like that philosophy.”

Councilors voted 6-1 to redraw the city’s ward boundaries based on a design presented at the Feb. 13 meeting. It balances population growth in some wards with changes made to county and state legislative districts approved in Augusta this summer, with boundaries radiating out from downtown like spokes.

But Dallaire still offered councilors an alternative.

“There didn’t seem to be any opposition with those maps, but there was interest to present another draft based around downtown areas, rural areas and neighborhoods,” Dallaire said.

Maine cities and towns are expected to balance each ward to contain an equal number of residents based on the most recent census. City Clerk Sue Clements Dallaire said Auburn’s five wards each need to have roughly 4,611 residents based on the 2010 census. Cities are allowed up to a 10 percent difference between the most and least populated wards.


Dallaire presented a Auburn ward map to councilors at a Feb. 13 workshop that made subtle changes, keeping most of the wards in place but adjusting lines in a few places to keep the population of each ward balanced.

But Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said last week it might be time for some more fundamental changes and asked staff to bring back information about changing the wards to better fit Auburn’s existing neighborhoods.

Dallaire unveiled a second map Monday night that would do that. For example, the current boundary map divides up the more populated downtown between the all five wards. The neighborhood map puts them all in Ward 3.

“It results in some significant changes,” she said.

The neighborhood-based map would have combined the downtown with the area from Park Avenue east and Gamage Street south in Ward 3. Ward 2 would run on either side of Center Street from the Mount Auburn Avenue south to Union Street and from Park Street north of Gamage Street to Summer Street. Ward 1 would become a mostly rural ward covering the northern edge of the city from the Androscoggin River, around the downtown to Minot Avenue.

The southern part of the city would have been divided up between Wards 4 and 5. Ward 4 would take over New Auburn and the in-town portion of Washington Street south to the Maine Turnpike. Ward 5 would become the southern counterpart to Ward 1 — mostly rural, ringing the more populated portions and extending to the city’s southern and western limits.


Councilor Robert Hayes said that sounded like a bad idea. He favored Dallaire’s original plan.

“I don’t think we want to create that opportunity,” he said. “We are here to represent the whole community, even though we are broken out by ward. I think we all need to represent the wide spectrum, downtown people as well as people that live out of town.”

But Councilor Adam Lee recommended delaying the decision, saying the new wards would not be used until fall elections in 2015. The council is no hurry to make the changes and all residents would be represented by the councilors they originally elected.

“There is no need to act right now,” he said. “We could still do this, use either of these plans. They’d still be applicable, but we could adopt them later on.”

Dallaire said she hoped to have the final ward changes approved by councilors a final time at the March 17 meeting so the new ward lines can be used in the June primaries.

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