Support voiced for Wiscasset ordinance

Posted:  Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 8:15pm

About a dozen residents voiced support for the Wiscasset Historic Preservation Ordinance at a public hearing Tuesday night. Voters will consider repealing the ordinance Nov. 7.

John Reinhardt, chair of the town’s historical commission, told the select board that a repeal wouldn’t be in the community’s best interest. The commission has approved over 35 certificates of appropriateness and rejected only two applications, he said. “Please don’t throw out the baby with the laundry. We’re a young group and we’re still learning.”

Anne Leslie urged selectmen to be advocates for historic preservation. “Be bold, speak up and tell people why this ordinance is important to our community.”

Former selectman Judy Flanagan said she couldn’t support keeping the ordinance in its present form. “It’s not what we need but this doesn’t mean others who feel as I do, are not in favor of protecting and preserving our town’s history.”

Commission member Susan Blagden agreed the ordinance wasn’t perfect but attempts by the Planning Board and Ordinance Review Committee to correct the deficiencies were ignored by the select board, she said. “The most distressing thing is that members of the select board have said everyone is complaining but no one – not one person has come directly to us.”

Town Manager Marian Anderson responded, the select board gets “chewed on, on both ears” which is why the board chose to put the issue before voters. “Copies of the ordinance ... are posted on the town’s website and are available here at the town office from the town clerk,” she said.

Selectman Katherine Martin-Savage said if the ordinance is repealed, she’s hopeful it can be rewritten. “There’s no reason why we can’t use some of it in drafting a new ordinance.”

Chairman Judy Colby said Bernstein Shur, the town’s legal firm, recommended the town repeal the ordinance and start again. “One of the suggestions is that we consider redrawing the historic district boundaries. I feel it’s important for the townspeople to vote on this. There are flaws in the present ordinance,” she said.

Kim Dolce said an active commission is important to all Wiscasset taxpayers. “It will help buoy property values in the historic district which contributes more than its fair share of the tax revenue for the town.”