OWLS HEAD — A record-smashing turnout was recorded Aug. 30 at the Owls Head annual town meeting as residents overwhelmingly approved an ordinance to allow events centers on parcels of 15 acres or larger.

The proposed events center ordinance was placed on the warrant after 106 residents signed a petition to get it on the meeting for a vote. Christina and Jeff Woodman want to have an event/gathering center at their 32-acre Ash Point Farm at 35 Ash Point Drive.

There was no debate at the town meeting, which followed by a week a Planning Board hearing where both sides stated their opinions. Opponents voiced concern that events centers could pop up at other locations across town. Each project, however, still must get Planning Board approval.

Residents approved the ordinance by a 142 to 87 vote.

The petition details what would be allowed at event centers under the proposed ordinance change. Events could run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with cleanup continuing until 11 p.m. One toilet for every 50 people would be required. The centers would need to meet noise and parking requirements already in place in town.

The turnout at the Aug. 30 annual town meeting was nearly twice the previous largest turnout. There were 138 people who turned out in June for a special town meeting, in which a proposed agreement between the town and Knox County rejected. At last year’s annual town meeting, 50 people attended.

Half the people were inside the community room and the remainder in the back parking lot listening on a sound system.

Incumbent Selectboard Chair Tom Von Malder was reelected without opposition for a third consecutive three-year term.

Longtime town official Richard Carver was elected to the Town Council. Adam Philbrook was reelected as harbor master.

Voters approved a 2021-2022 municipal budget of $1,109,516, down about $81,000 from the previous year budget approved at the 2020 town meeting. The decrease is due to a proposed public services budget of $561,000 that is about $90,000 less than approved last year.

Residents in a hurry to get the events center article, combined all the budget articles into one vote.

The general government budget was approved at $322,000, down about $11,000.

The approved public safety budget of $217,000 is up about $5,000.

The human services budget was approved at $2,750, up about $1,000.

Non-property tax revenues are projected at $770,000, up about $31,000.

Budget Committee Chair Robert Hirsch informed residents, however, that got the amount of money to be raised in property taxes will rise because of higher payments to Regional School Unit 13. That budget was approved at the polls in June.

Stephen Betts

Owls Head Selectboard Chair Tom Von Malder is sworn into a third term after being re-elected at Monday evening’s annual town meeting.

Turnout was so great that many residents had to gather in the parking lot of the town office. Stephen Betts