Dexter council extends east-west highway moratorium in narrow vote

Posted Dec. 12, 2013, at 10:08 p.m.

DEXTER, Maine — The Dexter Town Council narrowly passed an extension to a moratorium against private corridors on Thursday evening.

The council voted 4-3 for a 180 day-extension to a moratorium that originally passed in June. The moratorium extends to the construction of private corridors including paved highways, pipelines and high-tension transmission lines.

More than 100 people sat in the cafeteria at Ridge View Community School for the meeting. Residents and councilors who spoke in front of the crowd were in favor of a moratorium by a 2-to-1 margin. Only Dexter residents were allowed to speak.

The proposed corridor includes a 220-mile toll highway connecting Calais to Coburn Gore, creating an east-west route from New Brunswick to Quebec. Cianbro Corp. President and CEO Peter Vigue, who has been a leading voice in favor of the route, previously has said the highway would avoid town centers and pass between Dover-Foxcroft and Dexter. He also has said that eminent domain will not be used in acquiring land for the project.

Nearby towns of Charleston, Garland, Parkman, Monson and Sangerville have passed similar moratoriums.

Several residents were concerned by the lack of information, specifically the route of the corridor, from Cianbro Corp.

“We are asking for a moratorium extension because nothing has changed,” said Wanda Curtis. “[There have been] no answers regarding the scope of this proposed project that would affect this town and the surrounding area, property values, the very air we breathe and water we drink.”

Lisa Perez-McKusick agreed.

“We don’t have enough information,” she said. “We’re asking you [...] to do the right thing and pass the moratorium.”

Others said the lack of information was a reason to not pass the moratorium.

“I was hoping by this time we’d know something more about this. We’ve come full circle and we don’t know anything more [since the first moratorium vote],” said Fred Banks, town councilor. “I have a problem voting on something I don’t know anything about.”

Bill Lovejoy said the town needs businesses that the highway could provide.

“Economically, Dexter is the tank. Within the last 30 days, there’s 81 houses for sale. Who’s going to buy the houses?” Lovejoy said. During a previous meeting with Cianbro, they said, “Fair sale, which means you don’t need to sell. There’s no eminent domain. It’s not being funded by a government agency.

“If you make this moratorium, I think it sends a poor message to any business that’s thinking about developing in Dexter,” he continued. “We need revenue. We need a tax cut.”

Councilors Michael Blake, Missy Smith, Andre Robichaud and Denise Dinsmore voted to pass the moratorium, while Chairman Peter Haskell, Alan Wintle and Fred Banks voted against the moratorium.

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