June 19, 2018
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Glenburn land use ordinance vote to stand

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

GLENBURN, Maine — After hearing from supporters of the updated land use ordinance that voters turned down earlier this month, town councilors decided Thursday night to lay the matter to rest, at least for now.

The voters, they said, have spoken.

“I firmly believe that when a vote is cast, you go with the vote,” Councilor Kevin Paschal said, adding that he was strongly opposed to any effort to circumvent voters’ wishes.

Councilor Richard Cookson agreed.

“The vote has occurred,” he said. “It didn’t turn out the way many of us wanted but it’s done for now.”

Developed by a local committee over the past several years, the updated ordinance sought to establish a village district in the part of town that includes the town office and elementary school, a residential-commercial district, an industrial district and a rural district. It included, among other things, a list of activities allowed and prohibited within each or allowed with code enforcement or planning board approval.

The update was the focus of three public hearings and drew little in the way of obvious opposition until June 14, when it was rejected 67-58 in a referendum on June 14.

Chairman Michael O’Connor said he was concerned that such a large decision was made by such a small number of voters. His efforts to either table the issue so that the two absent councilors could weigh in or put it back before residents along with more information about why it is important to the town’s economic development efforts, however, fell flat.

Ron Harriman, the town’s economic development consultant, said that the land use ordinance was a key piece of the town’s effort to attract new businesses, which in turn would help contain the tax rate.

Without the ordinance, prospective businesses have no way of knowing where they can set up shop or if they will receive the needed approvals, he said.

“You’re not giving them a good signal,” Harriman said.

Jim Tower and Ernest Phillips, who served on the committee that wrote the ordinance, agreed.

Orrin Wilson, a vocal opponent of the ordinance, argued that it was too restrictive.

He said the vote against it should stand.

“Does anyone in here understand what the meaning of no is?” he asked.

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