NORWAY — The Planning Board will hold a public hearing Thursday, May 5, on a plan to institute a one-year moratorium to protect rural villages in North Norway.

The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in the Town Office at 19 Danforth St. The Planning Board has made no recommendation on the plan, which will go to voters in June.

The four rural villages affected are:

• Swift’s Corner — The area around the four-way intersection of Morse Road, Norway Center Road, Patch Mountain Road and Round the Pond Road; 

• Noble’s Corner — The area around the intersection of Greenwood Road and Round the Pond Road; 

• Norway Center — The area around the intersection of Norway Center Road and Morrill Road; and 

• Chapel District — The area around the four-way intersection of Wiley Road, French Road, Dunn Road and Morse Road.

According to the terms of the proposed moratorium, any construction, renovation, or change in use on property within the four village areas must strictly adhere to the definition of a home occupation.

Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman said a home occupation is defined in the Site Plan Review Ordinance as “an occupation or profession which is customarily conducted on or in a residential structure or property.”

Corey-Whitman said the moratorium would automatically be rescinded on the day of the 2017 annual town meeting, if approved at the annual town meeting in June.

The moratorium would allow officials time to determine potential impacts of future projects on the area, Corey-Whitman said.

The issue of protecting historic areas was prompted earlier this year by a plan to open a wedding barn on Morse Road, which is within the Swift’s Corner village.

Peter Ulrickson, the potential buyer of a historic 19th-century farmhouse at 107 Morse Road, filed a site plan review application last fall to approve a change-of-use request for the property so he could operate a wedding barn.

The weddings would be held in the barn one day per weekend and have no more than 125 guests. The expected route of traffic for guests would be from Greenwood Road to Morse Road.

But a large group of residents expressed concern about the plan, questioning potential issues such as noise and traffic. The application was eventually withdrawn.

Because of that concern and other impacts to the area, some residents asked Corey-Whitman about the possibility of zoning the outlying village areas in North Norway to control commercial ventures that they say threaten the quiet way of life they are used to.

Corey-Whitman said after the December 2015 hearing on the wedding barn that a number of issues had to be resolved before the Planning Board gave permission for it, including whether the business was a home occupation or a commercial venture.

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