Casco delays land purchase

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Renters living on a piece of land that is being sold to the Town of Casco might be breathing a sigh of relief.

The land purchase, which has been a topic of discussion by residents, has been delayed until the autumn.

The town will not officially own the parcel until September or November.

When the town finally does own the land, a housing management firm will be hired to deal directly with the tenants. Those tenants will enter into a month-to-month rental agreement.

Additionally, the Casco Board of Selectmen voted in favor of giving the renters a 90-day notice. Such an eviction notice would not occur until the future of the land has been determined.

“The folks who are there now are anxious to find out if we will let them stay or if they need to find” another place to live, Casco Town Manager Dave Morton told the board during its meeting on July 12.

Many citizens in Casco have expressed the belief that the land buy has already taken place. The purchase was approved by residents at Town Meeting in June, but the property deed has not yet changed hands.

Community members have been talking about all the possibilities for the 11-acre parcel with beach rights on Parker Pond.

The future of the parcel has “been a local conversation now,” Selectman Grant Plummer said.

The board agreed it would be best to set up a subcommittee to evaluate the uses of the property. The board will appoint people to the subcommittee in August. The members will include two or three of the abutting neighbors, a member of the Casco Parks and Recreation Committee, Casco Planning Board Chairman Lynne Potter and Open Space Commission Chairman Eric Dibner.

Plummer not only suggested the formation of the subcommittee but also volunteered to serve on it.

This August timeframe for the subcommittee starting up would give the group about nine months to come up with a land use plan — should any items need to be addressed at Town Meeting in June, Chairman Holly Hancock said.

Morton mentioned that there is a town need for the beach on Parker Pond.

“Next summer, the Recreation Department would like to do their swim program there because it is much safer than Pleasant Lake.

They would like to do that even if the town doesn’t open it up yet,” he said.

In his manager’s report, Morton reminded residents that the land is still private property and that the landowner’s permission is needed or being on the parcel will be considered trespassing.

At this point, there has been no decision of what to do with the property.

The board did recommend that the town have an engineer evaluate the septic system, the well, and the existing structures on the property.

In a related matter, the board voted to take out a bond anticipation note (BAN) to pay for the purchase of the land. Meanwhile, money from the Undesignated Fund will be used for the repair of the Pleasant Lake-Parker Pond dam.

That decision was made because the land buy is more expensive than the dam repair. Therefore, the town could maintain a healthier Surplus Fund by paying for the more costly project with borrowed funds.

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