Voters in Buxton may be asked in November to approve a zone change in Buxton Center, paving the way for School Administrative District 6 to buy more land for a new elementary school that could cost $35 million.

SAD 6 unveiled its plans to build a new school to replace four elementary schools in Buxton at the Buxton Planning Board’s Sept. 11 meeting. The four schools would be consolidated into one new building in Buxton Center, where the Hanson-Jewett schools are located. The proposed change would be from rural to village zone. The new school would also need future approval from the state and from voters in a referendum in all five SAD 6 towns (Buxton, Hollis, Limington, Standish and Frye Island).

To accommodate a new school, the district hopes to buy several additional acres from Bob and Joan Weeman of Long Plains Road, neighbors of the present Hanson-Jewett school complex. The Weeman property is now zoned rural.

The Weemans have a 13-room home and a five-car garage large enough for an apartment. Joan Weeman said if they wanted to build an apartment in the future, they would need to keep at least 7.5 of their approximate 15 acres under the present rural zoning. If the area were rezoned to village, they would only need three acres to go with their home and to cover any future plan to add an apartment in their home.

Buxton Selectman Jean Harmon, who is also on the school building committee, said at least five acres is now required per house for a family occupancy in the rural zone. She said a change to a village zone would reduce the requirement from five acres to two acres per house lot.

The school district has been talking to the Weemans about buying land for some time. “This is their idea to rezone,” Joan Weeman said Sunday.

Suzanne Lukas, SAD 6 superintendent, said after the planning board meeting that the district would like to buy up to 12 acres from the Weemans.

Buxton Center is not served by public water or sewer, and the Hanson-Jewett site is only about six acres, according to Lukas. If it built a new school at the site, the school district would need additional land for a septic system and to save a playground improved in recent years.

Elementary schools in Buxton are second on a state list for help. Lukas told the planning board that the state wants a site selection this fall. The location of the Hanson-Jewett complex is a preferred site for a new school, said Lukas, adding that the district could lose its priority for funding if it were unable to buy land as the selected site.

Keith Emery, chairman of the planning board, opposed rezoning the property.

“This is spot zoning,” Emery said at the meeting. “We shouldn’t pick out these spots and do this.”

Another planning board member, Wanda Emery, said a zone change doesn’t comply with the comprehensive plan.

But Selectman Cliff Emery, a cousin of Keith Emery, said rezoning would benefit the town, and there’s already a school at the proposed site. “This is a project for SAD 6 and the town of Buxton,” Emery told the planning board. “You’re not doing it to benefit Bob and Joan Weeman.”

Buxton Center has several historic public buildings and private homes. The former town hall, now used by the historical society, is in Buxton Center, along with the Buxton Center Baptist Church and the town’s last one-room school, which was relocated from Chicopee two years ago.

A 750-student school consolidating Buxton elementary schools would replace the Eliza Libby School in Bar Mills and Jack Memorial on Parker Farm Road in addition to the Hanson-Jewett schools. Lukas said the Libby School could see future use as an administrative building, Jack Memorial could be retrofitted for an alternative education program and the Jewett School could be used in the future for pre-kindergarten.

The fate of the Hanson School, a one-time Buxton High School, is unclear. One option would have it returned to the town of Buxton.

Lukas said the proposed K-5school would be brick and have two stories. It would provide 130 square feet per student, representing a 90,000- to 100,000-square-foot school. The school would be more than 2.5 times the size of Hannaford store being proposed for Buxton.

SAD 6 would also like to buy a home that is adjacent to the entrance of the Hanson-Jewett school complex to widen and upgrade the entrance for a new school.

The proposed zoning change for Buxton Center would require separate public hearings by both the planning board and board of selectmen before the referendum question can be put on the ballot. Neither board has set hearing dates yet.

Cutline (Buxton School 1) Cutline (Buxton church 1 or 2) school.


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