FALMOUTH — Councilor Bonny Rodden failed to turn back the clock Monday night on her colleagues’ closed-door efforts to find a buyer or developer for the former Plummer-Motz and Lunt elementary schools.

The Town Council voted 5-2 against Rodden’s proposal to release information from a July 11 executive session with representatives of OceanView at Falmouth, a large retirement community next to the former schools.

The council met with the retirement community’s operators to gauge their interest in buying all or part of the former school properties, which are next to OceanView.

“It was inappropriate,” Rodden told her colleagues, saying that the secret meeting gave the “really bad impression” that OceanView may have an “unfair competitive advantage” if it submits a proposal for the former school properties.

The closed-door meeting followed a workshop discussion in which the council agreed to advertise a request for proposals for redevelopment or reuse of the properties.

On June 14, town residents voted 1,938 to 1,777 against a proposal to convert the former schools into a community center and a public library. The town has built a new elementary school on Woodville Road that’s set to open this fall.

The town’s attorney, William Plouffe of Drummond Woodsum in Portland, said the executive session was legal as long as the council also met secretly with any other interested developers. The council voted 6-0 to go into executive session, citing the allowance under Maine law to discuss real estate negotiations.

Rodden was unable to attend the July 11 meeting and had asked the council to delay action on the school properties until Monday. Her order also asked to block the council from having secret meetings with potential developers in the future.

Councilor Chris Orestis supported Rodden’s proposal. He said no other developers have expressed interest in the properties since the July 11 meeting and he wondered whether they might have been “scared off” by the closed-door meeting with OceanView.

Councilors Fred Chase, Tony Payne, Faith Varney and Will Armitage and Chairwoman Teresa Pierce voted against Rodden’s proposal.

Several councilors said releasing information from the executive session would break faith with the public in general and with OceanView in particular. Chase said no serious buyer would be deterred by the council’s meeting with OceanView.

“I don’t think we did anything illegal,” Pierce said, noting that she would ensure future transparency in the search for a buyer or developer for the former school properties.

The council also reviewed a draft of a “call for offers” for the properties, to be administered by CBRE/The Boulos Co. Town Manager Nathan Poore said Boulos was selected in a related search for a real estate representative one year ago.

The council is scheduled to review a final draft of the six-page request for proposals on Aug. 8. The deadline for offers would be noon on Nov. 29.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]