ROCKLAND, Maine — The City Council on Monday postponed a decision for a Dec. 9 referendum election to repeal a conditional zoning ordinance amendment.
The amendment, designed to allow Walgreens to build an 11,500-square-foot drugstore at the intersection of Routes 1 and 17, had been challenged by a residents petition seeking repeal through a referendum.
But Councilor Tom Molloy said in the meeting Monday night that “trying to set a referendum vote for December 9 was in too much of a hurry.”
Molloy moved to table the request until Nov. 10 and set a later date for the referendum, whereupon the council voted 3-2 to table the matter.
Council members Deb McNeil, Tom Molloy and Mayor Hal Perry approved the post-ponement, and Councilors Eric Hebert and Brian Harden opposed the delay.
Harden pointed out that the local ordinance would not allow another public hearing on the same issue, but would allow public comments on the matter.
At Monday’s hearing before the council vote, Harden and Leigh Ann Fuller, residents of Jefferson Street, a neighborhood behind the proposed pharmacy site, said the zoning change had not been a good idea.
“Zoning is there to respect, and that’s why people buy homes in town because they feel they have some sort of protection,” Brian Fuller said.
Ken Pride, a resident of Cedar Street, which also is in the neighborhood that would be affected by the pharmacy, said that in the past year and a half of discussions, people’s positions have been “very clear.”
“We as a group of neighbors have tried to pursue this and express ourselves very much within the letter of the law and very much within the letter of city ordinances,” Pride said, adding that at times the discussions over the issue have been “less than friendly.”
“I think the step before you tonight is to approve the referendum to go through — to say yes to allow the citizens of Rockland to have a voice at the ballot box,” he said.
The council indicated the referendum vote could be scheduled for Jan. 6, 2009.