WISCASSET, Maine — With voter turnout higher than the turnout for last year’s town meeting, more than 65 percent of Wiscasset voters said no on Tuesday to continuing the town’s lawsuit against the Maine Department of Transportation.
Residents voted 578-303 to end a lawsuit filed by the town in an attempt to prevent the state from moving forward with a version of a traffic project, and specifically to prevent the demolition of the historic Haggett’s Garage and the removal of parking spaces on Main Street.
After the votes were counted, Selectwoman Katherine Martin-Savage, who supported the lawsuit, told reporters at the Wiscasset Community Center that she was disappointed in the results, but said, “The voters have spoken.”
The issue has been controversial among townspeople and business owners since 2016, when voters approved by a 2-to-1 margin what was known as “Option 2” of the project in a non-binding referendum. A 2017 vote, the result of a citizen’s petition, rejected changes to Option 2.
Selectmen voted 3-2 to sue the MDOT, hoping to save Haggett’s Garage on Water Street.
In February, selectmen rejected a consent agreement negotiated by attorneys for the town and the state in which the MDOT would comply with the town’s historic preservation ordinance and would request a certificate of appropriateness to demolish Haggett’s Garage. If it could not obtain the certificate, the garage would not be demolished and the project would move forward without a parking lot where the garage currently sits.
At one point, the dispute reached the office of Gov. Paul LePage, who told Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt that he would not agree to a decision by the MDOT to provide eight parallel parking spaces on Main Street, a chief concern of critics of the project.
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