Arthur Handman, chairman of Gorham Economic Development Corp. board of directors, Tuesday said the board supports a referendum to buy land for an industrial park. Robert Lowell/American Journal

GORHAM — The Town Council Tuesday viewed two concept plans for a proposed industrial park on land the town would purchase and develop off Main Street. Voter approval is required in a referendum next month.

The site includes adjoining parcels of 93 and 48 acres and would cost $4 million. The town would spend up to another $1.9 million to cover costs that include design of the industrial park, surveying, permitting and infrastructure.

Voters will be asked in a referendum at the annual municipal election on Nov. 5 whether to borrow up to $5.9 million for the project at the 141-acre vacant site zoned industrial.

The proposal marks the town’s first venture into real estate and development.

Darren Stairs of Woodard & Curran presented details of the two concept designs developed at behest of the town. Stairs said a former railroad line goes through the property as do a water main and sewer line. A cross-town walking trail would run through the site.

Concept 1 calls for an entrance from Main Street and connections to Cyr and Hutcherson drives, representing 8,600 feet of new roads and 800 feet of driveway. It would contain 24 lots with sizes from 3 to 9.6 acres.

Under Concept 2, it would have two entrances from Main Street with 23 lots from 3.3 to 9.6 acres. This concept would have 10,400 feet of roads and 400 feet of driveway.

Former Town Councilor Noah Miner, a Green Street resident, spoke in favor of the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting. Miner said the Main Street frontage could be zoned roadside commercial with the town dictating what happens at the gateway to the town.

“I’ll talk it up,” Miner said.

Arthur Handman, chairman of the Gorham Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors, told town councilors the board backs the plan and supports the referendum.

“Increasing the number of industrial, commercial and retail establishments in Gorham is necessary to expand and diversify the tax base to support our growing community,” Handman read from his letter to Town Council Chairman Benjamin Hartwell. “A new industrial park is a step in that direction.”

The proposal met no opposition at Tuesday’s meeting.

The property, owned by M.P. Rines Trust, borders Main Street, Libby Avenue and a residential neighborhood on Shamrock Drive. The property is near the Gorham Industrial Park.

On Sept. 3, the Town Council approved sending the proposal to referendum. The town has an agreement to buy the property pending voter approval.

Counting nearly $1.5 million in interest at 2.4% over 20 years, the total cost, including the $5.9 principal, would run about $7.4 million, according to information on a sample ballot. The town now has about $30.74 million in outstanding debt but that figure does not include another $2.8 million in authorized bonds not yet issued.

The Town Council voted unanimously 7-0 in support of the referendum.

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