ROCKLAND — The Knox County Commissioners postponed Tuesday afternoon a proposal to buy a nearly 2-acre parcel owned by the Owls Head Transportation Museum.

Commissioner Rick Parent of Warren said he wanted additional time to hear from residents of Owls Head about the proposed acquisition. Commissioner Dorothy Meriwether of South Thomaston said she wanted to wait until Commissioner Sharyn Pohlman of Camden was present.

Lauren Dillard, a resident of Owls Head who serves on the town’s airport advisory committee, spoke out against the purchase during the public comment session of the meeting.

Dillard contended that the purchase would contradict earlier statements by county officials that they would not expand the airport.

“Today is just 15 days after Owls Head, objecting to uncontrolled growth at the airport, imposed a moratorium… once again. The timing of today’s vote is stunning,” Dillard said.

Owls Head residents voted 74-61 at their annual town meeting on Aug. 29 to place a six-month moratorium on development at the airport. The supporters of the moratorium said it would give residents time to develop ordinances to better regulate the airport.

She urged the Commissioners to hold a public hearing on the matter.

The county is prepared to pay $750,000 for the parcel at 32 Benner Lane. The property is 1.7 acres and has three buildings that contain a total of six hangars. There are two spots on the parcel for the county to build a hangar, Airport Manager Jeremy Shaw said.

The airport manager told commissioners that the parcel is within the airport fence perimeter. In addition, the county is selling a 2-acre parcel to the town which consists of a cemetery now leased to the town. He said the total acreage of the airport will not increase overall and stays within the current fence perimeter.

Parent said he wanted to be a good neighbor and have more time to hear from the town’s residents.

Meriwether said she shares Parent’s concerns but added that the county has bent over backwards to cooperate with Owls Head even though some residents may not feel that way.

“I agree the optics of the timing is not good but this is unrelated to the moratorium vote,” Meriwether said of the county’s planned purchase.

Shaw agreed, pointing out that the county obtained an appraisal for the property in September 2021. The county has spent about $30,000 on an environmental assessment, a survey, and appraisal for the parcel.

The property is currently exempt from the property tax because it is owned by a non-profit museum. When the county acquires it and sells the hangars, the town will get property taxes. Plus the excise tax can be anywhere from $100 to $78,000 a year depending on the aircraft stored in the hangar.

The county will receive a steady revenue stream from leasing the land to the hangar owners, Shaw told commissioners. The county receives about $2,500 per year for an 80-foot-by-80-foot hangar.

The county’s attorney Jim Katsiaficas said the county does not need the approval of the town to purchase the land.

The transportation museum will use the proceeds of the sale for an expansion project of its educational purposes, Meriwether noted. The museum is undertaking a $9.75 million capital campaign to build a community education center on its property, according to its website.