Buxton voters will be asked in a referendum on Election Day, Nov. 7, to rezone a part of Buxton Center so SAD 6 could buy land for a new elementary school.

At the request of the school district, the town’s selectmen sent the proposed zone change to voters. The measure would switch a portion of the rural zone at the corner of Long Plains Road (Route 22) and Groveville Road to a village zone. The change would reduce a required lot size for a single-family home from five acres to two, allowing neighbors to sell some of their land to SAD 6.

The Hanson-Jewett School complex is located in Buxton Center, and school officials are eyeing the site for a new building, replacing four elementary schools. But school officials say they need to buy more land to accommodate a new building for 700 students.

“We have zeroed in on this site,” SAD 6 Superintendent Suzanne Lukas said at a planning board public hearing this week.

The state’s Department of Education has ranked Buxton schools No. 2 on a list of those needing help. Lukas fears other districts could pass Buxton on the list for state money if a site weren’t selected this fall.

The Hanson-Jewett site is small and wouldn’t support a larger building without more land. The site is now about six acres, and a new building needs 20.

In addition to a zone change by Buxton voters, a new school that could cost $35 million would require approval from voters in all five SAD 6 towns, Standish, Limington, Hollis and Frye Island besides Buxton.

Buxton resident Harry Weymouth, who lives on Long Plains Road, is a neighbor of the proposal. At the public hearing Monday, Weymouth raised a concern about impact if voters approved the zone change but later rejected borrowing money for a new school.

However, Lukas was optimistic the school would be approved. “We fully expect this project will move ahead,” Lukas said.

Responding to Weymouth, Keith Emery, chairman of the planning board, said the zone change would stay if the new school weren’t approved.

Another resident, Larry Miller, hoped the zone in Buxton Center would revert to rural if the school wouldn’t be built. But, he said, it would require another vote.

Emery opposed the zone change. “As far as I know, it’s against the comprehensive plan,” Emery said.

And another board member, Wanda Emery, agreed. She said the change would be in conflict with the comprehensive plan.

Planning board member Jeremiah Ross favored the concept of a zone change but said it was dropped on the board. “I support the change, but I’m not pleased with the process,” he said.

Lukas said it was brought forward in “short order” because of pressure from the state. She said the state’s Department of Education wants a site named by early December.

The board of selectmen heard public comment last week on the proposed zone change.

Planners also discussed details of a Hannaford Store proposed for Buxton with company representatives and continued a public hearing to Monday, Nov. 13.

Hannaford is seeking approval for a 36,000-square-foot supermarket and pharmacy at the intersection of Route 202 and Portland Road. A future phase two of the project would add five other retail outlets.

Cutline (Lukas 2)

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