The proposed merger of Lewiston and Auburn is nothing but a giant land grab.

Auburn, with its 44,928 acres, is nearly twice the size of Lewiston (22,464 acres). In 2016, Auburn had 5,868 acres of land classified as farmland, open space and tree growth, whereas Lewiston has only 943 acres.

Auburn has always been a farming and rural town, whereas Lewiston was settled as a manufacturing town with the water power of the river and the canals for the textile mills. Auburn later became a shoe manufacturing city, but the two cities have always retained separate identities.

Auburn has approximately 20,000 acres zoned Agriculture and Resource Protection District. The purposes of that district are to allow for conservation of natural resources and open space land and to encourage agricultural, forestry and certain types of recreational uses. Auburn has the scenic Lake Auburn and Taylor Ponds as recreational assets.

If the cities were to merge, it would be possible to change the zoning requirements of the Agriculture and Resource Protection District to allow for commercial and residential expansion, thereby changing the character of rural Auburn.

There are few, if any, valid reasons for merging the two cities. Most of the proponents seem to be Lewiston-based. Lewiston has much to gain and Auburn has much to lose.

The residents of Auburn will have their opportunity to maintain their identity and character at the referendum in November. They should not be coerced in voting for a land grab by Lewiston.

Fred Huntress Jr., Poland Spring

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