By a wide margin, Washington citizens approved a revised land use ordinance and sold the old municipal garage to the historical society for $1 when they gathered March 27 for their annual town meeting.

Following defeat of a similar measure at the 2009 Washington Town Meeting by just three votes, Washington voters changed course this year and approved the ordinance 197 to 98. The ordinance changes reflected a three-year process during which the town took its original 1988 land use ordinance, along with amendments made over the ensuing decades, and reshaped it into a comprehensive overhaul. After its defeat last spring, the ordinance returned to the town’s land use committee for further review. That committee then met with the planning board and appeals board, both of which made additional comments and suggestions on the document.

Voting took place on March 26, the day before the 2010 town meeting was held in the gym at Prescott School. At the polls, Wesley Daniel earned 256 votes for an uncontested reelection to the Board of Selectmen. There were 23 write-ins for that seat, with John Stewart receiving 15 votes and Frank Jones Jr. two votes. Other nominations earning one vote each were Mitchell Garnett, Berkley Linscott, Linda Leigh, Roy Garnett, Larry Esancy and Willard Pierpoint.

Earning write-in votes for the empty three-year seat on the Maine School Administrative District 40 board were Carrie Chavanne, 33 votes; Joan Frieman, four votes; Beth Connor, two votes; and Dan Horovitz, two votes. There were 16 others who received one vote each as write-in candidates.

And the town elected the following people to the budget committee: Henry Aho, Jim Bowers, Larry Esancy, Mahlon Linscott, David Williams, Wendy Carr and Dorothy Sainio.

Approximately 100 citizens attended the town meeting, ranging in age from babies to the elderly, and were shepherded through the warrant by Moderator Christine Savage of Union. The meeting began at 10 a.m. and lasted approximately two hours, with an ample break in the middle for citizens to get a cup of coffee and a bite to eat at the refreshment table.

By meeting’s end, the town had approved a $784,697 budget for 2010-2011, down $6,392 from the 2009 budget. However, with county taxes increasing for Washington by $5,194, and decreased funding from the state’s revenue sharing and tree growth reimbursement, Washington property owners will need to raise $41,608 over last year’s $307,366 to fund municipal operations.

Besides approving a budget, Washington tended to a variety of town business represented on the 38-article warrant, including selling to the Washington Historical Society the town’s old garage and storage space on Razorville Road for $1. Discussion ensued about whether the town would be better off selling the property on the open market.

“Do we really need a museum?” asked Washington resident John Stewart.

Resident Dave Martucci said the historical society has been looking for a place to modify for the history of the town.

“Its value is far greater to keep than sell,” he said. The historical society had approached the town about selling the property to the nonprofit.

An amendment arose from the floor to stipulate that the historical society would give the building back to the town when it had no further use for it. That article amendment passed.

Stewart then suggested the town determine the value of the building and a sale price, and offer it to the public first before selling it for $1. That amendment failed and the town voted, with one vote against, to sell the building to the historical society, which is not funded by the town, according to a society official speaking at the meeting.

Another article drawing debate included the proposal to offer a voluntary retirement plan to town employees who have been employed for more than 12 months and who earn $5,000 or more per year. If the employee volunteered to join the program, the town would match up to 3 percent contributed by the employee.

According to Selectwoman Kathleen Ocean, Washington has 11 employees. The idea arose after a lot of staff turnover and the selectmen decided, after consultation, a retirement plan might help employee retention.

After some discussion about the details of the proposal, an amendment was made to defer article action until next March and use the ensuing year to explore the plan. That amendment passed.

Other measures earning discussion included a suggestion to change the emergency medical service from Union Ambulance to Sterling Ambulance. After a debate about the merits of both services, the town voted to retain Union.

In addition to town business, Washington took March 27 to honor some of its departing employees, and to present an award to longtime fire department volunteer Donald B. Grinnell Sr. He received the Spirit of America Unsung Hero Award to a rousing applause.

“Thank you all,” Grinnell said. “I enjoyed it and I will try again.”

Washington also honored former employees Melissa Harvill, Cyndi Bourgeois and Beth Connor.