Wiscasset voters will decide whether to move forward with the town’s lawsuit against the Maine Department of Transportation in a referendum.

The meeting room at the Wiscasset municipal building was nearly at capacity for the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday. During the meeting, Selectwoman Judy Colby made a plea for a referendum vote instead of an open town meeting.

The town’s lawsuit against the Department of Transportation concerns its downtown project known as Option 2. The project includes the demolition of Haggett’s Garage and the elimination of parking on Main Street.

[With LePage threat looming, Wiscasset rejects deal to settle suit over Route 1 traffic fix]

“I was reminded at the selectmen’s meeting the other night that we, as a board, work for all the people, not just a select few,” Colby said. “I believe it is time for us to step back, have a referendum ballot vote instead of an open town meeting, and ask the voters if they want to move forward with the lawsuit. The people need to have their voices heard.”

Colby said the Maine Business and Consumer Court has extended the time for a hearing on a preliminary injunction against the Department of Transportation to April 9, which will allow enough time for a townwide referendum.

After Colby’s remarks, she made a motion for a referendum to loud applause from several members of the public. The motion carried 5-0.

[Wiscasset sues state to stop building demolition for Route 1 traffic fix]

Selectmen and several members of the public spoke in favor of the motion. There were no comments against the motion.

The discussion included the importance of the wording of the referendum question. The consensus was that the wording should be simple and straightforward.

Town Manager Marian Anderson gave an update on the town’s legal issues. The town will not file a brief in a lawsuit by a downtown property owner against the the department that names the town as a party of interest.

Anderson said the legal documents from the town’s suit against the department are available on the town website for the public to review.

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