BENTON — The town will hold a special town meeting in conjunction with the June 8 election to vote on language changes to the Land Use Ordinance.

The vote will be by secret ballot on seven articles, and the vote for the Maine School Administrative District 49 budget will occur at the same time. Voters will meet at the Benton Town Office, 1279 Clinton Ave., and polls will be open from 1 to 6 p.m.  

Benton held its annual Town Meeting in March, and at the time opted to hold it entirely by secret ballot. These articles were not included at the time because there were so many other measures and the select board didn’t want to make the ballot too long. They also did not want to make people spend more time inside amid the pandemic. 

Instead, the measures passed in March were the required spending items, said Benton Select Board member Robin Cyr. 

“We focused on the articles that are required to function and operate a town — budget articles essentially and authority articles,” Cyr said. “Because we didn’t want to expose folks to any more risk than we needed to.” 

Beginning in 2018, Benton worked to upgrade the town’s comprehensive plan to align with state language and requirements. That update also helps the town show that it is planning ahead and looking for economic growth, that can be helpful when applying for grants. 

Once the comprehensive plan was updated, the town turned to the Land Use Ordinance, to ensure that it aligned with the new comprehensive plan. 

The articles focus on the language of the town’s Land Use Ordinance, not major policy changes. The main purpose of the articles is to ensure that definitions and procedures are consistent across town documents, Cyr said.  

For example, there are terms that are defined in other town documents, but not in the Land Use Ordinance, so that information was added. Like in Article 4, which adds a formal definition for “Buffer Strips and Landscaping” — a term that appears in permits, but did not have a formal definition in the ordinance.  

Residents can see the full list of articles and proposed changes on the Benton town website. 

The ballot articles also seek to help set the town up for further economic development in the future, Cyr said.  

“All of this supports that kind of activity,” Cyr said, “and hopefully brings economic growth to the town.”

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