November 6, 2013

Wells approves lodging unit restrictions

Residents also approve $26.85 million school renovation project.

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Wells residents approved two ordinance changes that will prohibit the future development of seasonal cottage complexes.

The proposals followed a decade of heavy development along the U.S. Route 1 corridor. Eight months ago, the selectmen enacted a moratorium on new lodging units.

One of the ordinance changes prohibits new seasonal cottage and housekeeping cottage complexes in town. The measure passed by a vote of 1,794 to 693. The second defines motels as 20 or more units per building, set criteria for acreage and setbacks, and prohibit owners from living in a motel for more than 14 days in a calendar year. Voters passed the ordinance amendment by a vote of 1,680 to 731.

Residents and town officials worry about the impact of the complexes on traffic and municipal services, while recognizing they contribute to the town’s tax base and economy.

In the past 10 years, Wells has approved plans for 1,017 new lodging units, including 792 seasonal cottages. By the time all of those approved units are built, the town will have 3,095 lodging units, say town officials.

Voters in the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District, approved a proposed $26.85 million high school renovation. School officials say the funds are needed to ensure that Wells High School keeps its accreditation and meets state standards. Voters approved the construction bond by a 1,654-948 vote.

The project will be funded entirely by the towns’ taxpayers.

School officials said the high school has crowded classrooms that do not meet state standards or support project-based learning; an undersized library and student collaboration areas; limited handicapped accessibility; and mechanical, plumbing and technology systems that must be replaced.

Construction would start in the spring, with an anticipated completion date of September 2016.

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:mcreamer@pressherald.com
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