NORWAY — A request from the Planning Board last week to schedule a special town meeting to ask residents to rezone property abutting the Crooked River grew into a complicated discussion about whether to rezone or implement a moratorium on all shoreland property, including Norway’s lakes.

The Select Board sent the issue back to the Planning Board for further consideration.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Gray said the process could take a couple of months to complete before coming back to the Select Board. The process will include contacting property owners, holding public hearings and requesting a legal review for any ordinance change and warrant language.

The issue came up when a controversial yurt campground property along the Crooked River was recently sold. Following the sale, the Planning Board voted to vacate the approval of the campground and to ask the Select Board to place an article on the warrant on next month’s town meeting “to change the zoning for all the property in Norway abutting the Crooked River to Resource Protection.”

However, it was too late to get a new article on next month’s town meeting warrant, prompting the need of a special town meeting.

The concern about development along the Crooked River is due to its importance as a spawning area for wild salmon. The Norway section of the river is especially critical for the salmon’s survival.


Last year, James Pellerin, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife resource management supervisor for fisheries for the Sebago Lake Region, said, “Based on spawning and habitat surveys, the Sodom Road area of the river is the most significant reach of spawning and nursery habitat of the entire 62-mile river.”

Sodom Road is near the former yurt campground.

During discussion, Sal Girifalco, the president of the Lakes Association of Norway, urged the board to expand the zoning change beyond the Crooked River to the town’s lakes. His concern is the increased level of phosphorus in the water, causing algae, and other issues caused by the increased building density around the lakes.

Residents in attendance wondered if a moratorium could be a short-term answer while the Planning Board considers a more complex change to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance.  But interim Town Manager Bradley Plante said a moratorium would require a townwide vote at a special town meeting, which cannot happen before the annual town meeting next month.

He suggested the issue go back to the Planning Board so members could work out the details.

“It’s important to get the language right the first time,” Plante said.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to give the remainder of its American Rescue Plan Act funds, $2,115, to Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills to go toward a new building adjacent to its home at 9 Swallow Road in Paris.

The board accepted a $120 donation from Chad Phillips for the electric vehicle charging station, a $100 donation to the Fire Department from Nancy Grant that will go toward new equipment, and a grant for $2,889 from Maine Municipal Association Risk Management for a manhole cover lifter.

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