THOMASTON — About 60 Thomaston voters approved all open town meeting warrant items Wednesday, June 15, including four items related to workforce housing projects the town hopes to facilitate.

The first item was a land swap with George C. Hall & Sons. This item allows the town to exchange seven acres of land owned by the town for 30 acres owned by the company.

The next warrant article relating to the workforce housing authorized the Thomaston Select Board to sell lots from within the land received from George C. Hall and Sons Inc. for workforce housing.

Finally, there were two changes to the Thomaston land use ordinance. These will allow a change in zoning, which will allow greater housing density in the area.

The town has already begun working with the nonprofit Maine Workforce Housing, who presented some initial plans to voters at a May 25 public hearing.

Some residents questioned if Thomaston was being adequately compensated for the land swap with George C. Hall.

Carmen Norton said she thought the seven acres the town is letting go was worth more than the 30 acres the town is receiving, which she said was “mostly swamp land.”

Pollution Control Superintendent John Fancy said this land swap was a good deal for the town, and the town was not losing money.

Fancy said geologist Ricky Pershken of Dirigo Engineering had assessed the value of the material in the land near the quarry at $303,750.

As for the 30 acres, Fancy said developers wanted to put a dozen houses on the land at no cost to the town to create workforce housing and address the housing problem.

Fancy said there were some expenses for the land, such as hiring the geologist, but those would be recouped with the land sale.

Resident Bob Snow asked if any of these items authorized the Select Board to spend money on projects without voter approval.

Select Board member Bill Hahn said any future costs for these workforce housing projects would have to be brought to the voters.

Fancy also said the town would include deed restrictions in the land sales to prevent any “flipping” and to keep the housing as workforce housing.

The initial plan is to build six duplex units in the next year, Fancy said. This project would address a major issue locally and nationally, which is workers cannot find places to live. “You can’t get help if the help doesn’t have any place to live,” Fancy said.

Also approved was the municipal budget, warrant items 7 to 27.

Those in attendance asked probing questions of town officials about the municipal budget. They sought answers regarding issues such as reserve accounts, police department positions, cemetery operations and fire hydrant rentals.

In other business, Town Clerk Melissa Stephens swore in the newly reelected members of the Select Board, Sandy Moore and Bill Hahn.

Sandra Moore and Bill Hahn are sworn in at the Thomaston town meeting June 15. Photo by Christine Simmonds

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