CASTINE, Maine — Voters on Tuesday supported three referendum questions, including an ordinance change that could pave the way for the Witherle Memorial Library to move ahead with a planned addition.
The project was stalled when the town’s planning board refused a permit for the addition because it did not meet the parking requirements set in the zoning ordinance, which required that proposed increases in space provide additional off-street parking.
The library sought a change in the ordinance and circulated a petition calling for an exemption for libraries from the parking requirements. The planning board submitted an alternate proposal for a zoning change that exempted only the Witherle Memorial Library.
Voters approved both measures. The planning board version, Question 1 on the ballot, passed by a vote of 351-123. Question 2, the petitioned version, was approved by a vote of 274-187.
According to Castine Town Clerk Susan Macomber, the language from the planning board received the most “yes” votes, so that is how the ordinance will be amended.
The vote clears the way for the library to move ahead with the project, according to Margery Read, the chairwoman of the library board of trustees.
“It means we can reapply to the planning board,” Read said Wednesday. “As far as I know, the parking was the only thing keeping us from going ahead and building.”
The library board already has begun preparing the paperwork to reapply, she said, but plans to hold another public meeting to review the plans. Read explained that some in the community objected to the placement of a handicapped accessible entrance to the library and have suggested an alternative location. No date has been set for that meeting, which will provide an opportunity for the public to review both options.
In other balloting, voters adopted a revised and updated town comprehensive plan, the first major revision since 1996. They also authorized an expenditure of $4,500 to hire a part-time code enforcement officer through the end of the town’s fiscal year, which ends on Jan. 31.
In municipal elections, incumbent Selectman Peter Vogell won re-election, 308-174 over challenger William Carter. A write-in candidate won a seat on the school committee. Temple Blackwood received 268 votes to win the seat vacated by Tom Gutow, who chose not to seek re-election.
In uncontested races, Dorothy Knapp was re-elected to a five-year term on the library board of trustees; and Wendy Knickerbocker won a one-year seat on the board.