I’m delighted to see the concern from so many citizens regarding the shrinkage of open space in Windham. I was privileged to serve on the Planning Board approximately five decades ago when we proposed Windham’s original zoning ordinance. I was the youngest member of the board and probably the only one still living. Our chairman, Jack Clark, (no relation) did a superb job explaining our proposal to whoever would listen. It wasn’t until after several meetings and three public votes that the ordinance passed. It took many changes allowing for more farmland and open space. The townspeople made it clear they wanted to preserve the rural character of Windham.
After the original zoning ordinance was passed, we searched extensively for land with water access for public use. S.D. Warren had land on the Presumpscot River which they agreed to donate for public recreation space. Dundee Park was created for all to enjoy and should be protected as public recreational space forever.
Next, the council gained approval to produce our first comprehensive plan. I chaired that first Comprehensive Plan Committee and kept in mind the citizen’s intent to maintain Windham’s rural nature. As the plan was updated over the years, it was not always adhered to. Veering from the plan has left us with more development and less of the rural community that the citizens desired.
What I’ve observed over the years is a gradual violation of the original ordinance and the will of the people who voted for it. The Planning Board and councilors have granted exceptions allowing more housing developments where farms once stood. Those boards forgot the citizens’ desire to preserve open space. I sincerely appreciate that so many of you are concerned and are, once again, holding workshops and having discussions in an effort to preserve Windham’s rural character.
While business and development certainly have their place in Windham, zoning is critical to allow enough open space for all to enjoy. I encourage you to proceed with respect to the original intent and maintain Windham’s rural character.
Windham and Naples, Florida