Howard Pond in Hanover, named after Phineas Howard, one of the town’s earliest settlers, was the site of the town’s first sawmill in 1796. Town of Hanover photo

HANOVER — Voters will gather Tuesday to discuss whether the town should deorganize and have Oxford County take over governance.

The informational meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Pavilion, 21 Ferry Road.

According to a pamphlet mailed to Hanover residents, information about deorganization will be made available at that meeting and questions are encouraged.

No vote will be taken.

Under Maine law, deorganization must be approved along a strict timeline that includes approval by the state Legislature and multiple votes at the municipal level. The process also includes a formal public hearing to take comments on the process, and a requirement that those comments be considered in the final plan.

Under state law, if the Legislature approves the plan it would go before voters at the following General Election held in November, so it would not be on the ballot this year because the Legislature doesn’t convene again until late December. If voters reject deorganization, the town could not submit another deorganization plan to the Legislature for at least three years.


If there are fewer than 50 people living in a town that is considering deorganization, the process is streamlined, but at the last census count Hanover recorded more than 250 residents.

According to town officials, when deorganization occurs, municipal government — including the board of selectmen — would be dissolved, all town assets would be liquidated and transferred to the county in accordance with the plan approved by voters. All town records would be surrendered to the state archivist, by state law.

At the same time, the state’s tax assessor may transfer any cemetery trust funds held by the town to a cemetery association if there is one. If there is not, those funds would be transferred to the county commissioners for use with cemetery upkeep.

If a cemetery association is formed after deorganization, commissioners may transfer the funds to that association.

In Hanover’s case, under a deorganization plan, the services provided by the town would be performed by private contractors or neighboring towns, as determined by the Oxford County Commission, or various officials in state government. Those include fire protection, solid waste disposal, road and bridge maintenance, law enforcement, animal control and all other administrative services, with fees imposed as approved by commissioners.

Property taxes would no longer be paid to the town, but would be assessed by and paid to the state and used to pay for municipal, county and school costs much as they are now, according to the town.


By law, the deorganization procedure must also provide for education, including school transportation for all students, and the commissioner of education is responsible for implementing these plans and for setting tuition rates for students.

Once this informational meeting is held, state law requires a meeting to vote on whether to proceed with the process. If that vote passes, a five-member local deorganization committee must be formed that would include a member of the board, a member of the school committee, and three community members approved by voters.

Maine has a Commission on Municipal Deorganization that would assist in the process, including reviewing procedures and suggesting alternatives to deorganization if commission members find that feasible alternatives exist.

Hanover’s first settler was Nathaniel Segar, who came from Newton, Massachusetts, in 1774, where he established what is now The Sunflower Farm. Other early settlers included Jonathan Bean, Jesse Duston and Moses and Stephen Bartlett.

According to town records, Phineas Howard purchased land bounded by Bethel, Newry and Rumford in 1792 — including what is now Howard Pond — where farmlands quickly developed and homes were built. A sawmill was established there in 1796, and the area became known as Howard’s Gore.

Hanover was incorporated in February 1843 when Howard’s Gore and a section of Bethel along the Androscoggin River were combined, and where farming and wood mills were the economic engines of the community.


According to Oxford County records, between 1919 and 1944 three towns and one plantation were dissolved, reverting to unorganized territories. To the south, they were Albany, Mason and Milton Plantation and, to the north, Grafton.

According to county records, the last town to deorganize was Magalloway Township, formerly known as Magalloway Plantation.

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