YORK, Maine – Selectmen have decided to put a nonbinding article on the May election asking voters if they want the town to spend between $7 million and $8 million to purchase the 109-acre Davis property on York Street.
The decision came about after a large group of people attended the last board meeting, many of whom spoke in favor of the purchase. These were among the people who later formed York Village Future, an organization that is pushing for some town action on the property. A 121-unit development is slated for the property.
The board had several options, although they have been clear that they could not appropriate the money in May because there wasn’t sufficient time to put the measure through the budget process.
The dollar amount of $7 million to $8 million came about during discussions last week between Selectman Robert Palmer and Davis family members Mal and Jim Davis and their representative Tom Greer. Palmer told selectmen Monday night that it was “a very good conversation” that has resulted in the Davis family making some concessions.
He said they agreed to a two-step process. If voters say yes to the nonbinding article in May, then a vote to purchase the land must be on the November ballot. “They agreed to do that, and frankly it wasn’t easy. The town could say yes in May and no in November and lose six months” of development time.
“They’re willing to give us this two-step process and see if it works. Their preference would be that the town purchase the land,” he said.
Palmer did say that the development plans have already received preliminary approval by the Planning Board, which has allowed the Davis family to go out to request for proposals from developers. “And they have interest from eight to ten developers. Waiting for November is not ideal for them,” he said.
The nonbinding proposal that will go before voters in May includes access to York Street and to Raydon Road, which will be pivotal in case the town wants to develop the land sometime in the future. Voters will be asked if they want the selectmen to proceed with negotiations with the Davis family to purchase the land for no more than $8 million or less than $7 million.