After eight months of waiting, Windham resident Lydia Peters, 81, can finally begin dividing her 34-acre farmland into house lots.

The Windham Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to rezone her River Road property near Route 202 from “Industrial” to “Farm Residential.” The decision comes after public debate and review by the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee.

“I still can’t believe it,” said Peters, glad to be finished with the ordeal.

She and her husband raised cows and bailed hay on the land in previous years. After her husband passed away in January, Peters decided she would rather sell or give the land to friends than let it turn “into bushes.”

Her original request to have the acreage rezoned to “Medium Residential” sparked debate and heated comments at a public hearing in September.

At the hearing, neighbor Valerie Bonin voiced a litany of concerns such as increased traffic on River Road, septic runoff into Presumpscot River and a possible rise in area property taxes. She claimed she spoke for many other neighbors who also worried that further residential development in the area would jeopardize its rural character.

While councilors agreed that the property – and possibly the whole zone – should be removed from the Industrial designation, the question remained whether the area should be rezoned as “Medium” or “Farm Residential;” the difference being that Medium Residential would allow more house lots than Farm zone.

The council consulted the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee to make their final decision. The committee recommended to rezone the property from “Industrial” to “Farm” or “Farm Residential” in accordance with the town’s Comprehensive Plan which outlines South Windham as a “rural growth” area.

With the rezoning now final, Peters said she plans to donate some of her property to friends who have helped her throughout the years and then sell the rest as one parcel. She also believes that Bonin was alone in her objection and that most of the other neighbors support her.

“I live in the best neighborhood in the world,” Peters said.

This is just one of many zoning requests the council has had to deal with as of late. Discussions are currently underway concerning a “Residential” to “Commercial” zone change to property surrounding The Craft Shop on the fringe of the North Windham commercial district and a change to shoreland zoning near Little Sebago Lake.

Both zoning changes may go through the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee to make sure they are “consistent” with recommendations required by the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Some councilors are also interested in considering a rezone of the entire “Industrial” sector at a later date.


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