WAYNE — Local officials have decided to postpone a decision about the future of a town-owned, 118-acre piece of land until next year, after a well-attended public forum last month highlighted a split in the town’s opinion about how the property should be treated.

Some residents want to see the land all or partly preserved, while others would like it to be sold for the highest value.

The Select Board had been planning to hold a vote on the future of the land this week, then send a proposal to residents for a referendum vote in November.

But the selectmen decided to cancel that vote so they can have more time to go through a recent report by the town’s Open Space Committee, which includes multiple proposals for how the land can be sold or preserved.

Within the next month, selectmen hope to circulate a survey for residents to share their views about the land, which is on House Road and overlooks Wilson Pond, said Don Welsh, chairman of the Select Board.

With that data, the group plans to whittle down the various options presented by the Open Space Committee into a concise choice that can go to voters.

“After the town meeting, we all realized that there are quite a few differing opinions on the open space,” Welsh said. “We decided there are too many suggestions, or too many things, that could happen with this property. We decided the best bet is to narrow down the options.”

In addition to more than 20 people who spoke at the Aug. 14 meeting, more than 40 residents also have emailed their feedback to the town in the last month.

“We were impressed with the number of people who really want to have a say on this,” Welsh added. “That’s quite impressive, for a small town like this.”

The town acquired the land in 2016, after its previous owner failed to pay taxes on it for multiple years.

Since then, the Open Space Committee has been researching the costs and benefits of multiple proposals, including keeping it under town ownership, selling it to Kennebec Land Trust for it to be preserved, selling it to the highest bidder, and dividing it into multiple parcels for a mix of preservation and selling. Those options are outlined in documents on the town website.

The committee presented its report to the Select Board last month without recommending any option over the other, Welsh said.

At the public forum on Aug. 14, about half of the 20 speakers said they want to preserve the land in some form, while about five spoke in favor of the tax revenue that would come from selling land to the highest bidder.

At the same time, Welsh said, the selectmen don’t intend to wait too long to send a proposal to voters and may do so at Town Meeting next June.

“I made the motion to table this thing,” Welsh said. “But we made a promise that we were not going to drag our feet just because there is a ball in our court. I think it’s important to get this moving and get the survey out and come up with a final package.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.