THOMASTON, Maine — Selectmen want to hold a special town meeting before the November general election to enact a zoning law that would prevent a Dollar General store from locating on the former state prison property.
Selectmen and the town’s planning board held a public hearing Monday evening at Watts Hall on a proposed zone change to limit retail stores in the area known as Thomaston Green to 2,500 square feet.
Dollar General has proposed constructing a 9,100-square-foot store on a lot fronting Route 1 adjacent to the Strong Insurance Company. The proposed 2,500-square-foot limit would mean the largest building allowed in the area between Wadsworth and Ship streets would be about the size of the insurance company building.
In February, the planning board rejected Dollar General’s original proposal, saying the project failed to meet local zoning standards, particularly in regard to its design.
A citizens group them formed and gathered 131 signatures to force a special town meeting to adopt the zoning restriction.
Selectman William Hahn said that the plans for Thomaston Green have not developed as the town wanted in part because of the recession that started in 2008. He said the requirements for development on that property should be reviewed again.
Resident Cynthia Bertocci said the size of stores was a concern of residents and the 2,500-square-feet limit would create a neighborhood feel.
Thomaston Green is located on Route 1, overlooking the St. George River, where the prison was located until its demolition in 2002.
Selectmen did not set a date for the special town meeting at their Monday evening meeting, saying they wanted to hold it at the same time that the proposed acceptance of the former Lura Libby School article was ready for voters.
The town agreed in June to close the school as sought by Regional School Unit 13. Residents, however, also have to vote to accept the school.
RSU 13 Business Manager Peter Orne said Wednesday he hopes to have the school board vote Sept. 1 on returning the building to Thomaston. He said that more than a century of deeds have intertwined the property where Lura Libby and the adjacent Oceanside Middle School is located. Lawyers are working on the deed issue, Orne said.