After a legal hiccup delayed the Damariscotta Board of Selectmen’s consideration of a petition calling for a moratorium on commercial development last month, the circulators resubmitted the petition to the town for certification Thursday, Sept. 7. Town Clerk Michelle Cameron verified the petition, which received 149 signatures, the following day.
The petition calls for a temporary ban on new retail buildings of larger than 2,500 square feet and on any new construction, expansion, or use that requires approval under town ordinances.
“The town of Damariscotta is suddenly under threat of increased development pressure from large-scale retail development,” the petition reads. “This development pressure was unanticipated and has not been adequately provided for in the town’s current land use ordinance.
“Continued large-scale retail development could pose serious threats to the public health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Damariscotta through the overdevelopment of parts of town with such businesses without adequate provisions for issues of safety, sewage, water, roads, and land use compatibility and visual access to view corridors.”
The moratorium would give the town at least 180 days to “develop and implement the necessary amendments to zoning and land use ordinances and regulations to accommodate these development pressures,” according to the petition.
According to the petition, the moratorium would retroactively go into effect on June 7 and would extend through Dec. 4. As the 180 days draw to a close, if the town finds that the issue necessitating the moratorium still exists and that reasonable progress is being made to alleviate the problem, the moratorium could be extended to June 1, 2018.
After the petition was first submitted and verified in August, town attorney Jenny Villeneuve found the petition was invalid due to the absence of a town of residence accompanying the majority of the signatures. Under state law, a petition must have the printed name, signature, address, and town of each person who signs.
Cameron rescinded the petition’s verification on Villeneuve’s recommendation.
The resubmitted petition has now been sent to Villeneuve and the topic could surface at the next selectmen’s meeting, Cameron said.
The selectmen are scheduled to meet at the town office at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 19.