Hampden council chairman steps down

Posted March 08, 2011, at 11:06 a.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — Town Council Chairman Matt Arnett stepped down at the close of Monday night’s meeting and announced plans to move with his wife to South Carolina.

Despite the timing, Arnett said his decision had nothing to do with acrimony in town over a recently passed comprehensive plan.

“I like conflict about important issues and there are some important issues right now,” Arnett said Tuesday. “Part of me would love to be running again in November.”

Arnett filled a council vacancy in 2005 and was re-elected three years later when his colleagues picked him to lead the seven-member panel.

Councilors will vote at their next regular meeting on March 21 to elect a new chairman.

In the last several weeks, Hampden residents have grown increasingly frustrated with councilors over their actions last fall to pass an updated comprehensive plan. The document, an inventory of town assets and guide for future land use planning, is not binding, but it has put fear in the minds of residents.

Prior to Arnett’s resignation on Monday, councilors tabled a motion to repeal the 2010 comprehensive plan. The request for repeal came from resident Rich Armstrong and was supported heavily by the crowd of about 100 who turned out Monday.

About 250 residents turned out at a public forum last week to express their displeasure over elements of the comprehensive plan.

Councilors are still debating about what to do next, but they are likely to create a citizen committee to examine and address concerns about aspects of the new plan.

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