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2006-04-18
Wiscasset, ME. Citizens Petition for Moratorium on Boxes

Mid-coast Maine is buzzing with anti-big box sentiment these days, in the wake of several communities' regional response to the threat of suburban sprawl. The towns of Damariscotta and Newcastle have recently voted to cap the size of big box stores, and Nobleboro has voted for a moratorium on large retail development. Thomaston is slated to vote on a cap in May, and now the town of Wiscasset, Maine is also going to consider freezing big box developments. According to an email alert copied to Sprawl-Busters, residents have been gathering signatures for a moratorium vote in June: "On April 25, the Town Clerk will present the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen with a moratorium petition to be voted at the June Town Meeting. This June vote is only a "time out" and not a vote for or against Big Box Stores. You will only be voting for an opportunity to give the Ordinance Review Committee time to make a recommendation to the Selectmen and possibly a later vote for Wiscasset citizens. This gives everyone an opportunity to say what they what in Wiscasset. This moratorium only postpones new applications for retail sales stores over 40,000 square feet. (Larger than the existing Ames Supply or Shaw's Supermarket). This moratorium will give the Town of Wiscasset citizens 6 to 12 months to decide what they want where. The Comprehensive Plan needs to be finished before a Big Box Store asks for a building permit. The Rural District covers 80% of Wiscasset, yet there are very few ordinances adequately directing this large area. There are very few regulations in the Wiscasset Ordinance Performance Standards when a Big Box store decides they are here. This moratorium is only a "time out" to think, talk and decide. The Selectmen and Ordinance Review Committee should encourage reasonable retail development while preserving the character of our community. They should be given this opportunity to value the unique character of our town, consider appropriate planning tools, and study the issues. There is much appreciation for the 250+ people who went out of their way to sign the moratorium petition. This is not an issue of just the reality of taxes or jobs. It is an irreversible change that we all need to approach with wisdom."

What you can do: For earlier stories about the big box debate in Maine, search Newsflash by "Maine."










 
 
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