A  turnout of Gorham residents Monday objected to a proposal to rezone a state wildlife sanctuary that lies east and southeast of Gorham Village to allow for more houses to be built.

A Planning Board vote on the proposal failed in a 2-2 deadlock with Chairperson James Anderson and Susan Durst in favor and Russell Frank and Seven Siegel opposed. Scott Herrick, Vincent Grassi and David Burrows were absent.

The Town Council sent the proposal to planners for a public hearing and recommendation. The measure now returns to the Town Council for a public hearing and further action, Anderson said.

The measure would have rezoned the vicinity of South Street to Brackett Road from rural and suburban residential to urban expansion. The area is a portion of Maine’s 3,600-acre Narragansett Game Sanctuary, where hunting is prohibited.

The measure also would have rezoned the nearby vicinity of New Portland and Lowell roads from the rural district to suburban residential.

Deer, forest, plants and the aquifer were residents’ concerns aired at Monday’s meeting. A neighborhood petition drive gathered 160 names opposing the rezoning. Several speakers at the public podium received applause.


The rezoning of the area is included in the town’s comprehensive plan, approved in 2016, but would require implementation. Under a shift to urban expansion, lot sizes with a private sewer would be reduced from 60,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet.

A lot with public sewer would remain at 20,000 square feet under both urban expansion and suburban residential.

The wildlife preserve area now lacks public water and sewer, creating a fear that housing development would impact wells. Richard Foley of Newton Drive said “people are struggling” with water supplies now. He argued rezoning does not meet the guidelines of the town’s comprehensive plan that requires infrastructure improvements.

“This change is not right,” Foley said.

Jon Hodgdon of Louise Street shared that concern.

“I fear I won’t have water to cook and bathe with,” Hodgdon said.

Kathleen Ashley of Day Road said that part of Gorham is “blessed” with streams, and she was concerned about the ecology because the trees contribute to offsetting climate change.

Donna Cassidy, who said she has lived on Day Road for more than 30 years, pointed out the comprehensive plan does not mention the wildlife sanctuary. The plan is not a fixed document and can be amended, she said.

Contributed / State of Maine


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