A proposal in Whitefield to allow low-income residents 70 and older to defer paying property tax until their homes are sold, they move out or they die divided the hall at Town Meeting Saturday at the Whitefield Elementary School.

Dennis Merrill, chairman of the Whitefield Board of Selectmen, said the vote was so close, the moderator called for division, and people for and against the measure filed to the sides of the meeting hall.

“When you’re sitting up front there and people are putting up their hands, sometimes the depth perception is not great,” Merrill said.

When the standing was over, the proposal fell by a narrow margin. Only a few such deferrals are in place in the state.

The majority of the estimated 100 residents voted to approve the proposal to remove the Coopers Mills Dam. The Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Midcoast Conservancy and the Coopers Mills Dam Committee have been working for more than a year to craft the proposal that also calls for building three dry hydrants, creating public access to the site and watershed education.

“Now, we’ll start digging in the details and execute a contract with the Atlantic Salmon Federation,” Merrill said.

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Voters also agreed to allow installation of solar panels on the roof of the fire station, extend the term of the road commissioner from one year to three years, passed the proposed floodplain management ordinance and agreed to spend up to $95,000 for a newer road grader to replace the town’s current road grader, which is a 1977 vehicle with a blown transmission.

All of the budget articles were adopted with only slight changes, Merrill said. The budget was anticipated to be $1,090,000. This year, town officials are expecting to draw from its surplus for some of its spending.

Town residents declined to join the Gardiner Public Library on a trial basis. Neither the selectmen nor the town’s budget committee recommended spending $4,500 to give residents access to the library’s books and collections.

In Whitefield the municipal elections were held Friday night.

Three candidates ran for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. Tony Marple with 152 votes and Frank Ober with 133 votes were re-elected. Bruce Matthews received 130 votes.

Three candidates ran for two open seats on the Planning Board. Jim Torbert with 155 votes and Jake Matthews with 123 votes were elected. Mike Panosian received 104 votes.

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The race for road commissioner was uncontested and David Boynton was elected.

Terri Blair was elected to the one-year term on the Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit 12 board, but no candidates appeared on the ballot for the open three-year term. Merrill said there were a number of write-ins, and the town clerk will contact them to see whether any of them will accept the seat.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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