HANOVER — Hanover residents resoundingly voted against deorganization Tuesday, Dec. 13. The vote was 14 in favor and 51 opposed.  The Town Meeting took place at the Gem in Bethel and lasted three hours.

State and county officials warned residents of the many hoops the town would need to jump through in order to become an unorganized territory.

Hanover’s five miles of roads would need to be in state-approved condition, bridge work needs to be completed, school debt would need to be paid down, and town-owned property and town equipment would need to be liquidated. All fees and bills would need to be paid, explained Nancy Bodine, fiscal administrator for the unorganized territory for the State of Maine.

In September, Hanover voters discussed whether the town should deorganize and On October 19, 50% of Hanover voters who had voted in the last gubernatorial election, signed a petition to start the process.

“It’s a very serious decision for a town to make and it really is important that you have as much information as possible … when you deorganize you lose that authority and control and become a township within the UT,” said Bodine

The legislative process would have taken two to three years. “some of the primary reasons that the legislature looks for is that the town’s population is decreasing, that the population is aging … they also look at if the town has a lot of property that is suddenly turning tax exempt. They look at the mil rate … on average how does it compare to the mil rate for Oxford County,” said Bodine.


“There is no school board, there is no representation,” said Rick Colpitts, UT Superintendent of Schools, “Although we pay the tuition, you pay 100% of the cost.”

Bodine said that they also want to be sure that the town has looked at all revenues that may be solutions to maintain municipality status like education subsidies, homestead exemption reimbursement and shared services with other towns that reduce costs.

The town would need to set aside $20,000 to create a zoning map. “It’s a requirement.” said Ben Godsoe, chief planner at the Maine Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC). “The zoning has to be fairly and evenly applied.” He mentioned the varied areas the UT serves and the less-targeted funding that Hanover would receive.

Commissioner David Duguay said “if you deorganize the county commissioners, the three of us [Duguay, Steven Merrill and Timothy Turner] are like your selectmen, but with less power. We don’t have any power on where your kids go to school. We don’t have a code enforcement officer or any type of planning board. We do provide essential services.”

Referring to Hanover’s rise in costs, Duguay said, “I just want to point out we have had that same pain. Fire Protection and Public Safety went up 63%.”

Following their presentations, state officials answered questions. Noise ordinances currently in place would go away and be replaced with state noise ordinances which may or may not be comparable. The 20% increase in census numbers would be a red flag for the state’s approval.


There have been three or four municipalities that have pursued the deorganization process in the last five to six years. Properties would be re-assessed as part of the process. The town would not be immune from increases in costs (fuel and staffing, especially).

Bodine could not answer resident, Jeff Davis’ question of what the town’s chances would be of the legislature being accepted after all the time and possible expense involved.

In response to how the town ended up at this place, Selectman Frank Morrison, Jr. talked about the rise in costs the town has occurred. “Everything is skipping right up. The school [costs] we can’t control at all.”

Town Clerk Kelly Harrington added, “we just got Mill Hill done. We are now in desperate need of getting Howard Pond Road and the Top Hat Road done. We have a bridge on Howard Pond, that needs replacing … Along with the wonderful town office, that is filled with mice and squirrels … 76% of your tax bill goes straight to the school budget leaving us 24% of your tax bill to try to fix all these other items.”

Harrington reminded residents that $9,000 had been appropriated and passed  at the last Town Meeting for the process of deorganization.

Following the two-hour meeting with state officials,  residents had a one-hour debate moderated by Scott Cole of Bethel.

Before the debate began, several voters had already walked to the front of the room to cast their votes in a large wooden box. Harrington and Cole, and Deputy Clerk Ellie Andrews counted all the votes following the debate.

If the article had passed, a five-member local deorganization committee would have been formed. Since the voters rejected deorganization, the town cannot not submit another deorganization plan to the State Legislature for at least three years.

As residents left the meeting, Select Person Brenda Lee Gross said she was “disappointed” as did resident Jeff Davis. Others said they were relieved.

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