READFIELD — Nine questions related to broadband internet and land use ordinances will be on the ballot Nov. 2 at Readfield’s special town meeting.

The secret ballot vote is set for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Harold and Ted Alfond Athletic Center at Kents Hill School, 1617 Main St. Voters may request absentee ballots until next Thursday.

Articles two through four on the meeting warrant deal with broadband internet service, with the first question asking if residents seek to authorize the town to negotiate one or more agreements for high speed internet.

During a public hearing Oct. 7, Daniel Wells, chair of the town’s broadband committee, explained Readfield has three options for expanding access to high speed internet: Working with the Western Kennebec Lakes Community Broadband Association, a collective consisting of six central Maine communities working to expand internet access; establishing their own broadband fiber optic network; or working with Spectrum.

The first question essentially gauges public interest and allows the town to begin negotiating agreements. It also stipulates a final agreement and funding would require voter approval.

Article three asks if voters seek to allow the town to enter into agreements and accept and spend state, federal or private grant money on behalf of the broadband association or the town itself, for the purpose of offsetting costs related to a potential broadband fiber optic network.


The final broadband article asks if voters want to allow the town to appropriate up to $5 million to establish high speed fiber internet. It comes with the caveat that while the article authorizes borrowing, it does not commit the Select Board to doing so.

The Select Board is also planning a future town meeting at which final approval on a broadband infrastructure program would be put to a vote.

As an additional caveat, the warrant stipulates the question is being asked to gauge if residents are willing to financially support town ownership of a broadband network. If residents favor the question, it would show the public supports the project, which the warrant says is important for prospective vendors and grant-making agencies.

The $5 million estimate does not include grant funding, and the town’s actual cost estimate is $4.4 million, which includes a 10% contingency. According to the municipal treasurer’s financial statement, the total interest on the estimated $5 million would be $1.2 million, bringing the total debt service to $6.2 million. This is based on an estimated interest rate of 2.195%.

The land use ordinance questions begin by asking voters if they approve an ordinance that would make amendments to nonconforming structures — structures that do not meet current setback and other requirements.

Changes include clarifying that if any portion of a nonconforming structure is within a 100-foot setback or less, the entire structure may not be expanded beyond the limits allowed in the most restrictive setback area.


It would also allow for up to a 50% reduction in side and rear setbacks for nonconforming structures and expansion if they increase the distance between the structure and a body of water.

The next article asks if voters would approve an amendment to designate a district for large scale commercial or industrial structures, such as utility plants.

Other proposed amendments include:

• Allowing village district setbacks to reduced by up to 5 feet for accessory structures, provided there is no alternative location that meets setbacks to the greatest practical extent.

• Allowing service businesses in the academic district where they were previously not permitted, including a solar ordinance, in the town’s land use ordinance.

• Requiring that subdivision approvals, amendments and other plan modifications be recorded with the Kennebec County Registry of Deeds, and establishing requirements for this documentation.

A digital copy of the warrant, with detailed explanations for each article, is available on the town website —

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