Thomaston residents discuss potential impact of proposed Walmart

Posted March 25, 2011, at 5:37 p.m.

THOMASTON, Maine — About 25 people gathered Thursday night to voice concerns about a new Walmart store moving into town.

The issue of one of the world’s largest businesses moving into a town of about 2,700 people took up about an hour and a half at a special public meeting about the proposal.

“Do we want all this traffic coming into Thomaston to change the quality of life here? We have a lovely small town here,” said resident Bill Martin.

Other people worried about what effect the new store could have on tourism and a local bird sanctuary.

The public meeting Thursday night at Watts Hall was offered to give Planning Decisions, a Hallowell company, more insight before it conducts an economic and environmental review of locating a store in Thomaston. Planning Decisions, which was hired by the town, will then issue a report to the Thomaston planning board by July. This report will inform the board about the effects of Walmart on the town.

According to Charles Lawton of Planning Decisions, the Walmart moving in would bring new tax money to the town. But adding property value to Thomaston also would reduce the amount of funding the town would get from the state for education. Further, adding property value means Thomaston would pay a larger share of the Knox County taxes.

Planning Decisions will examine if the additional county taxes and lessened state aid would be cancelled out by the taxes Walmart would pay. It might be a net gain for the town, Lawton said.

Other concerns were raised about the Walmart in Rockland. No one was sure if the Walmart there would close as a result, and if it did, what the impact on the area would be.

Lawton and Frank O’Hara of Planning Decisions offered no answers Thursday night.

“The reason we came tonight was to get any sense of subjects you think are of particular importance,” Lawton said at the meeting. “We have not begun the study.”

The economic and environmental impact study will begin soon and will be completed this summer. Anyone with input can call Planning Decisions at 621-2623.

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