There won’t be any big box stores anytime soon in the town of Nobleboro, Maine. Two days ago the town meeting passed a six month moratorium on commercial buildings larger than 35,000 s.f. After a short discussion, the issue was called to a vote, and so many residents raised their hands in favor of the moratorium, that a paper ballot was not needed. Three more mid Coast Maine communities will be taking related growth management votes soon. Damariscotta votes today on a 35,000 s.f. cap, Newcastle votes on a similar cap on March 27th, and Thomaston votes on a cap in May. Mid coast Maine has been under an assault from big box retailers, including Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s. Wal-Mart began spending money in Damariscotta to convince voters to support their proposal for a 186,000 s.f. store on the edge of town. In recent weeks, Wal-Mart has hired a PR firm out of Portland, Maine, and sent multiple full-color mailings to voters in Damariscotta. The Nobleboro moratorium will give residents an opportunity to rewrite their comprehensive land use plan. “It’s just a Band-Aid measure,” one Nobleboro Selectman told the Portland Press Herald. “We’re just putting it aside for a while until we can write up whatever we need to have.” Notable about the Nobleboro town meeting was that twice as many people turned out to vote as usual, around 282 people, showing how concerned residents have become over unmanaged growth.
Stay tuned for more news out of mid coast Maine as they take on the Wal-Mart machine.