TURNER — Residents are being asked to vote on adopting the town’s comprehensive plan update, and to approve reallocating $10,000 of unused funds for professional services to review zoning ordinances, at a special town meeting Aug. 16.

The nearly 200-page document, the first update since 2006, lays out a 10-year blueprint for how to tackle the most pressing priorities and goals identified by residents in a series of surveys and public input sessions.

A public hearing Thursday night was one of the final steps before the plan can finally go before voters. An 11-resident committee began working on the plan in 2018 and a vote to approve it last year was delayed due to the pandemic.

“I think the committee did a great job; did a great job explaining what we did and what we’re looking for, for a layperson committee,” Chairperson Mike Gotto said Friday. “Bottom line is that the state has found it consistent with state law.”

The “vision for Turner” imagines a future for the town that preserves its “open, rural feel” and important landmarks while encouraging commercial and residential development and greater outdoor recreational opportunities.

“This update to the comprehensive plan should serve as a new guide for the community and town officials as they make decisions about the future of Tuner,” the document says. “The plan should be considered a living document, meaning that it will require review and revisions as Turner changes over time.”


One of the most significant changes proposes expanded outdoor recreation, which includes exploring options that, “support limited commercial activities in or adjacent to the (Androscoggin) Riverlands Park that would provide logging, camping, marinas or equipment.”

“The park is a tremendous resource, probably very underutilized in many respects,” Town Manager Kurt Schaub said Friday. “And one of the things that was brought out at the public (input sessions is) perhaps the state might do a better job in providing launch areas for kayaks or maybe a place for people to rent kayaks or set up a camping area,” that is typical at other parks around the state.

But the town’s current zoning map designated the entire park, with its seven-mile stretch of the Androscoggin River, as an area of resource protection. As of right now, that basically makes any sort of waterfront development, whether that be in the form of a boat launch, a seasonal kayak rental shop or camping area, just about impossible, Gotto said.

“We have determined that the best plan of attack is to revise our shoreland zoning to be more consistent with the state (law),” he said. “Whether or not it occurs it is not up to us,” since the park is state-run.

“Nobody wants to see the park paved. They want to see it as the natural resources that it is,” and more akin to a Sebago Lake State Park, Gotto said. “Outdoor-based recreational activities in the town is probably the best area of economic growth for the town.”

“At this point, Turner’s zoning would be an obstacle to the state accomplishing a goal like that if they chose to do that,” Schaub added.


If voters approve the plan, they will then be asked to approve reallocating $10,000 of unused funds toward an ordinance review process.

The committee only used $2,000 of its $12,000 budget since it opted not to hire a third-party professional planner to help with the plan. Instead, the committee is proposing that that money go toward the actual implementation of the plan, specifically to be used by an ordinance review committee to hire professional services.

If and when that committee proposes zoning changes, it’ll go through the same public hearing and voting process as the comprehensive plan.

In other news, the town completed its revaluation and notices of new property values were mailed to property owners last month, according to a notice on the town’s website. “As anticipated, virtually all values increased (it’s been 23 years since the last full revaluation), and the tax rate dropped,” from $17.90 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $11.80, “the lowest rate of any town in Androscoggin County.”

The special town meeting to approve the comprehensive plan will take place on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m., at the town offices at 11 Turner Center Road.

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