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October 19, 2017

Debate continues over Damariscotta's proposed moratorium

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
Daniel Catlin, CEO of Commercial Properties of Portland, has found himself at the center of a debate over development in Damariscotta. Residents and business owners voiced mixed opinions this week about a citizen-initiated referendum calling for a temporary moratorium on commercial development that appears on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Damariscotta residents and business owners expressed mixed opinions about the upcoming citizen-initiated referendum on whether to enact a moratorium on commercial development, at back-to-back hearings Oct. 16-17.

The Lincoln County News reported the 180-day moratorium 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.

Many residents said they support commercial development because it would grow the tax base. But Lucy Harrington said they also want it to look nice and fit in with local businesses.

Damariscotta Planning Board alternate Jenny Begin, who helped circulate the moratorium petition, said "For me, it was a way to look at our ordinances and see if anything needed to be addressed."

But Yellowfront Grocery co-owner Jeff Pierce said he finds "the whole thing to be hysteria."

The petition came in response to controversy over recent development proposals, including one by Portland developer Daniel Catlin, CEO of Commercial Properties Inc., for an 11-acre Main Street property, for construction of three commercial buildings: a 22,000-square-foot-building for two commercial stores, a 5,525-square-foot building with three commercial spaces, and a 2,700-square-foot bank with a drive-thru.

The Lincoln County News also reported that after a public hearing on Sept. 18, Catlin revised his plan for one of the buildings to more closely resemble traditional New England architecture.

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