NORTH YARMOUTH — Debates over a proposal to redevelop town-owned land and the future of development in the town are at the heart of a contested race for two seats on the Board of Selectmen.

Five candidates are vying for the two three-year terms.

James Moulton, who was elected to the board last November, is the only incumbent on the ballot. The other candidates are former Selectman Anne Graham, Paul “Chip” Metevier, Peter Lacy and Nelson Smith.

Candidates are focusing on a proposed redevelopment plan for the former North Yarmouth Memorial School and the future economic development of the town. In June, residents will vote on whether to accept a plan from construction company A.H. Grover to renovate parts of the school and rebuild Wescustogo Hall in exchange for 10 acres of land intended for housing units. The project is expected to cost North Yarmouth $500,000. Some residents oppose the plan and there was a lengthy and contentious debate over how to develop the property at the polls last November.

Graham said she decided to run again for selectman because of “dysfunction” on the current board. “I really just wanted to get back on and see if we can pull things together and cooperate a little better,” Graham said. “You need a stable town government for the town to thrive.”

Graham said she will not vote for the Memorial School proposal as currently written. She thinks the town should pull back from the school proposal until it can hire a town planner and put more thought into how to develop the town center.

“We know there is growth out there and we want to do it well,” Graham said. However, if voters approve the project, she will stand by their decision, Graham said.

Moulton, the incumbent who has long been involved in North Yarmouth government, said he stands behind the A.H. Grover proposal and wants to stay on the board so he can shepherd the project to its conclusion.

“It is a good, sound proposal, meets the criteria put forward last November,” Moulton said. “I’m not convinced you can come up with a better proposal than this for the town without an impact on the taxes.”

Moulton was one of the residents who supported a citizens’ referendum last November that opposed a commercial development plan for the property put forward by selectmen at the time.

“They lost the election in November by a substantial amount. I think you have to honor that,” Moulton said. “The Grover proposal honors that.”

Beyond the Memorial School project, Moulton said he wants to renovate the town offices and look at Tax Increment Financing districts to encourage development.

Smith, a retired teacher, said the A.H. Grover plan is a good proposal, but the fact that the town got only two responses to its request for proposals shows it needs to improve its business climate.

“It does not seem to be a business- or developer-friendly town,” Smith said. If elected, Smith said he would like to see reforms to the town’s zoning code and comprehensive plan and Tax Increment Financing zones to make it more attractive for economic development.

“I’m certainly not interested in seeing the town become an industrial base, but we can do some development that would be a plus for the town,” he said.

Metevier, a semiretired insurance adjuster, said he recognizes North Yarmouth is growing, but wants to make sure the growth is planned out. North Yarmouth’s greatest asset is being a bedroom community close to cities, and too much unplanned growth could change that, he said.

The town should retain its identity as a rural community with a history of agriculture and stone mining, Metevier said, but recognize there are opportunities to grow.

“What I’ve heard is a lot of people are proud of their old roots, but they all recognize that you can’t be the old town forever,” he said. “By the same token, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to willy-nilly develop a shopping center on every corner.”

Lacy, an assistant general counsel at Maine Revenue Services, said he decided to run for the board after getting frustrated with the confrontational tone of the debate about the Memorial School project. While he likes some aspects of the A.H. Grover plan, he doesn’t like it as a whole and thinks the town can find a better option.

“I’m of the opinion that we should hold off the plan and wait,” he said.

There doesn’t seem to be a huge groundswell of support for the proposal, but people are tired of debating it and want to get something done, Lacy said.

“I don’t think that’s a good reason to commit to something this big and of long-term importance to the town,” he said.

Lacy, 35, the youngest candidate running for selectman, said he wants to be a voice for young families in North Yarmouth that are underrepresented in town government.

“One of the groups in town not represented is young people – people with families, that type of demographic,” he said.

There is a one-year seat on the Board of Selectmen, but only one candidate, former Selectman Paul Napolitano, is on the ballot for that position. Kevin Desmond is running unopposed for a seat on the School Administrative District 51 board of directors, and David Hyde is running unopposed for a five-year seat on the cemetery commission. There are no candidates for three open seats on the town’s budget committee.

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