WEST GARDINER — For now, the minimum lot size in this southern Kennebec County town will remain at 60,000 square feet, but that may change in coming years.

At Saturday’s Town Meeting, which drew more than 300 residents to the town’s fire station, a majority voted down a citizen’s petition that would increase the minimum lot size the rural town to 3 acres.

Gary Hickey, the town’s road commissioner, stood up at the meeting to explain why he and others gathered signatures to get the measure on the Town Meeting warrant.

“This town is growing awfully fast, the school’s too small and the transfer station is overrun,” Hickey said.

He said he didn’t know if this was the way to do it, but it was one idea.

After more than a half-hour of debate, residents opted not to increase the lot sizes, voting 109 against and 77 for.


This is not likely to be the end of the debate; the town has formed a committee to revise West Gardiner’s Comprehensive Plan, which was last done in 1990.

At that time, the plan stated that the 1.3-acre lot size would ensure the town’s rural character and keep it affordable.

The vote on the issue was advisory only; increasing the lot size would require passing an ordinance, which would require time to draft it, a public hearing and a vote at either a regularly scheduled election or a special town meeting.

Generally, the West Gardiner Town Meeting draws about 150 residents. This year’s heightened interest was driven in part by four proposed ordinances and the election for selectman.

In the three-way race for a seat on the Board of Selectmen, Gary Hickey II earned 434 votes, defeating incumbent Steve McGee, who had 285 votes, and fellow challenger Erin Small, who received 40 votes.

In the race for a seat on the Gardiner-area Maine School Administrative District 11 board of directors, write-in candidate Molly Rogers defeated Joshua Holmes, also a write-in candidate, 235 votes to 69 votes.


In the end, none of the four ordinances were considered Saturday.

Following a contentious public hearing in mid-March, selectmen withdrew two — regulating medical cannabis retail stores and cultivation — for various reasons.

While the remaining two were redrafted as a ban on adding any new solar arrays and storage facilities in West Gardiner and prohibiting expansion of existing facilities rather than the regulation that was first proposed, those articles were passed over.

Greg Couture, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said they posed problems in drafting that require more work and input from subject matter experts.

The selectmen had proposed a spending plan of $1.98 million to meet the town’s needs for staffing, maintenances and infrastructure as well as setting funds aside for other projects, including dam maintenance, making repairs at the transfer station and constructing a building for the town’s historical society.

Most of the budgetary items passed as presented, with funds being added to several line items via amendments from the floor including two food pantries and additional spending on town vehicles.


Residents voted down a $25,000 donation to the Kennebec Valley Boys & Girls Clubs to help pay for the new $11 million facility.

That spending was to be paid for with excise tax, surplus funds, and money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. West Gardiner property owners were expected to pay for about $450,000 of that spending through property tax.

West Gardiner’s property tax rate is currently $8.30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. It’s too soon to say what the property tax rate will be for the current fiscal year; while the Kennebec County assessment has been determined, the MSAD 11 budget will be finalized in June.


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