An advertising curtain hangs in December 2021 in front of the stage on the second floor at Starling Hall in Fayette. Town voters are expected to decide Nov. 8 if they want the town to spend up to $500,000 on matching funds for grants to help finish renovations to the building. Voters are also to decide whether to use $8,000 of the town’s surplus funds to install a security system at the building. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

FAYETTE — Fayette voters will be asked in November to decide on six local referendum questions about high-speed internet, funding for Starling Hall, amendments to the town’s land use ordinance and a solar moratorium.

“It’s gonna be a busy one,” Town Manager Mark Robinson said.

Question 1 asks if voters support town officials applying for federal, state or private funding sources to pay for the full cost of high-speed internet installation.

The town put two high-speed internet questions on the ballot in June, one asking if voters supported a municipally owned fiber-optic service through Axiom, and the other asking if voters wanted internet service through Redzone Wireless.

Voters rejected both questions. The Axiom proposal would have cost the town an estimated $560,590, while the Redzone agreement would have required the town spend $385,275.

Robinson said Redzone has approached the town about applying for a jumpstart program through the Maine Connectivity Authority to help fund wireless efforts in the town. The program would not require local taxation, but officials would need to show there is voter support for the initiative.


“This gives the electorate the opportunity to say that they do support broadband,” Robinson said. “They just don’t support the use of real estate property taxation to support it.”

The next two questions on the ballot involve Starling Hall, a building that is now nearly 150 years old and has the distinction of being Maine’s first Grange hall. In the 1800s, Grange halls served as places for farmers to discuss cooperative activities and for members of farming communities to socialize. A group of volunteers has been working to restore the former Grange hall in Fayette as a community gathering place.

Starling Hall in Fayette in 2016, before the building was moved away from Route 17. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Question 2 asks if voters want to raise up to $500,000 to provide matching funds for grants that would allow the former Grange hall to be renovated. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has earmarked $500,000 in federal funding for Starling Hall renovations, but it has yet to be approved as part of the federal budget.

Joe Young, president of Friends of Starling Hall, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and upkeep of the building, estimated it would cost about $1 million to complete all of the needed renovations, including structural repairs to the roof and bringing the first floor into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including adding bathrooms.

The group is also seeking to add an elevator, replace some existing windows and add new ones, install a fire-suppression system and add siding and trim.

Question 3 asks if voters want to use $8,000 from the town’s undesignated fund, or surplus, to reinstall Starling Hall’s basic security system.


The two Starling Hall questions were on Fayette’s Town Meeting warrant in June, but were tabled to November.

Robinson said residents at the June meeting were concerned about inadequate public notice for the public hearing related to those questions.

The next two questions focus on amendments to the town’s land use ordinance:

• Question 4 asks if voters want to exclude subsurface waste water disposal systems, geothermal heat exchange wells and water wells from having to meet the town’s dimensional requirement setbacks.

• Question 5 asks if voters want to change the road setback requirement for structures in town to be 75 feet from the centerline of the road.

Jessica Leighton, the town’s code enforcement officer, said Fayette’s setback rules are 50 feet from the edge of the road or 75 feet from the centerline, whichever distance is greater.


“This just makes it 75 feet from the centerline of the road across the board,” she said.

Question 6 asks if voters support a 270-day utility scale solar moratorium ordinance.

Leighton said the town’s Planning Board proposed the moratorium so it could come up with an ordinance before major solar projects are pitched to the community.

“We would like to work on that ordinance throughout this next year to get ready for Town Meeting,” she said. “This just establishes a moratorium so that one doesn’t come in before we have the rules in place.”

In-person voting is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 8 at Fayette Central School at 2023 Main St. The deadline for absentee voting requests is Nov. 3.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story