At a special town meeting at Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon Tuesday, Sept. 15, voters tabled acceptance of an energy systems ordinance and rejected a property gift. Church members had never voted to offer their buildings to the town. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

NEW SHARON — After much discussion, the New Sharon Energy Systems ordinance was tabled and acceptance of a gift of property rejected.

The special town meeting, held outdoors at Cape Cod Hill School, drew about 50 voters Tuesday evening, Sept. 15.

“We got some new information yesterday,” Planning Board Chairman Scott Nichols said. “After consulting with our town attorney this afternoon, we decided to hold off on voting on the ordinance. There are some things we need to look at.

“At this time it’s just not ready. It is what it is.”

One resident asked what the gist of the ordinance was.

It covers solar, all power corridors, radio towers, Nichols said.

“It’s pretty comprehensive,” he said. “Some items in there, when it comes to certain classifications, are in dispute. We want to sit down, take a look at it with all interested parties to come to a resolution as soon as possible. It covers all energy stuff.

“New Sharon is kind of wide open to anything and everything right now. We had an ordinance for general business. The new stuff that’s coming in these days the energy corridor, solar, windmills, all this different stuff was never really considered back in the day.”

In order to protect the town and property owners, the Planning Board was asked to come up with something, Nichols added.

“It’s not to stop anything. Basically to put protections out there,” he said.

At a special town meeting Tuesday, Sept. 15, voters rejected accepting a gift of buildings from the New Sharon Congregational Church. The town is renting the vestry, seen in the background, while a new town office complex is constructed. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

One resident asked what the ordinance was modeled on, noting it was 48 pages and pretty intense.

The ordinance came from Caratunk, which is similar in size to New Sharon, and was modified, Nichols said.

New Sharon’s attorney Amanda Meader wrote Caratunk’s ordinance and more modifications may or may not be made after meeting with the interested parties, he noted.

The emphasis of the ordinance is on keeping setbacks where the town wants them, with the intent to protect abutters, another resident said.

The ordinance hamstrings large landowners on what they can do with their property, one man said.

This guy that owns two acres, he is going to be able to tell someone who owns 500 acres what he can do on his property, one woman asked.

I want to clarify, it’s not someone’s entire property just the setback, another woman said.

The next Planning Board meeting is October 29, Nichols said.

“Show up, have these discussion then,” he added.

The vote was 41 in favor of tabling with one opposed.

On Wednesday, Nichols said while all Planning Board meetings are open to the public, the room where the board meets is small and only so many people can be allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions. If there are more than the room will hold, some people may not be able to attend, he added.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. in the temporary town office on Cape Cod Hill Road.

Property gift

The question on the town accepting a gift of property known as the Congregational Church and Vestry located at 21 and 25 Cape Cod Hill Road was defeated.

“None of the church members knew this was happening so there never was anything to accept,” church member Dana Dill said.

“David Dill came to a select board meeting,” Pond said. “He said church members wanted to offer the church building to the town. The board talked and said it would be up to the townspeople. We put the warrant out for townspeople to see.

“I received an email from Joseph Raymond saying the church board didn’t vote to give the property over. I contacted David Dill, he said there was a conversation about it. In fact, they did not vote and he was sorry he brought it to the board at that point in time.”

“In the event the church does vote to do that later on, we should probably proceed with the vote. That way we’d know what the townspeople want,” Pond said. “There’s an article passed annually that allows the board to receive gifts to the town without going to the townspeople. We’re already having the meeting today, it only makes sense to continue with the question.”

David Dill is Dana Dill’s son.

“The first I ever heard was when the warrant was posted,” church member Bob Neal said. “Considering the church membership, the few that we are, have never been asked to do anything about this, I move we table this until such time as the church moves.”

A special town meeting was held at Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon Tuesday evening, Sept. 15. Nate Bartlett shared his concerns about the town’s history of not maintaining buildings. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“I have concerns about the town accepting the church’s property as a gift,” Nate Bartlett said. “We have a demonstrated ability of not maintaining buildings in town. I also heard from other folks here about the energy ordinance where the whole design of that is to protect people’s property values.

“My property values already have taken a hit from this new school building we’ve built. If we have 2 churches not maintained on the town budget it’s certainly going to affect my property values.”

The same time should be taken, look at gifts in the same light as the ordinance, Bartlett added.

One lady noted the church building is known for traditional events including weddings, funerals, and other gatherings. If the town takes the property and doesn’t maintain it, what then – would it become a parking lot, a park, she asked before stating she wanted a vision for what the property would be used for since it will impact what the village looks like.

The water district did reach out to David Dill about purchasing the church property 3 months ago but he never got back, Misty Hanson said. The district could use the little building and perhaps the large building could go to the historical society, she added.

“Keep that in mind. There are other options,” she said.

“The town gave the board of selectpersons the ability to sell property without approval, so we could have another Family Dollar, or whatever, right there. If we’re thinking about ordinances, we should think about that,” Bartlett said.

“Rather than table it, just vote it down,” Tony Ramsey said. “If the church members want to give it to the historical society later on, that’s fine.”

David Dill worked directly with the selectpersons when the vestry was rented, Pond said.

Space for the town office was needed while construction on the new town office/fire station complex is underway.

“We were working in good faith. I don’t want anyone to think we tried to do something behind anyone’s back,” he said.

 

 

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