WISCASSET — Almost every resident that spoke at a public hearing on the potential repeal of Wiscasset’s Historic Preservation Ordinance was against the measure.

Residents, and some members of the Historic Preservation Commission formed by the ordinance, urged the select board to reconsider  repealing of the ordinance.

A vote on the repeal will take place Nov. 7.

Critics spoke of the importance of  preservation, not just for the historical value, but for the economic benefit it brings to the town.

“Research of the economic and public benefits have revealed that it is a powerful tool in sustaining the local economy, sustaining jobs, and even generating capital,” said John Reinhardt, chair of the Historic Preservation Commission. He urged that before the ordinance is thrown out, the select board work with the commission to revise it.

Efforts to repeal the ordinance kicked off at an April 18 select board meeting. The catalyst was the testimony of Celeste Edwards, a resident of 4 Fort Hill, who publicly criticized the Historic Preservation Commission.

A proposal for a fence on Edwards’ property was rejected by the commission, after she tore down the previous fence without proper permitting. She said she was never informed of any historic preservation ordinance, and that  commissioners treated her poorly throughout the process.

Select Board Chair Judith Colby apologized to Edwards “for her treatment by the commission,” and soon after called for a vote to set a public hearing to discuss removing the commission entirely, which later turned into a repeal of the ordinance itself.

Commissioners urged the board to reconsider scrapping the ordinance, which was written after 10 years of work by volunteers.

Further confusion was raised when the select board asserted that the town would likely pursue another historic preservation ordinance, different than the one it currently has, but likely using the previous ordinance as a resource.

“If we can use that document as a working document once it’s repealed, then what is the definition of repeal?” said Kim Dolce, a resident of Wiscasset.

Dolce said she has been through the Historic Preservation Commission’s review process three times, and the commission  “bent over backwards” to accommodate applicants. She also pointed out that of the three select board members who voted to put the question on the warrant, two were expressing favor towards having an ordinance.

“Two of the three of you have stated tonight very plainly that we need to have some protection for our historic district,” she said. “So why throw this out? Why not work to make it better. Why start from scratch?”

James Kochan, a member of the commission, asked why the town wouldn’t simply revise the ordinance they have.

“It’s a lot easier to revise a working document,” he said.

Kochan also criticized the select board’s handling of concerns about the ordinance, pointing out that the commission took recommendations to revise it seriously and brought five “very serious revisions to the ordinance” back to the select board. All of the revisions were dismissed.

“I’d like to have some examples pointed out to me, these major reasons why this ordinance must be thrown out,” he said.

Chairperson Colby said the select board is moving forward with a referendum vote due to advice from their attorney.

It is also a way the board can affirm that residents still wish to have the ordinance, according to Town Manager Marian Anderson.

“They’re bringing it back to voters to say, ‘do you want it, or don’t you want it?’”

Colby agreed with Anderson’s assertion. “The reason I voted for it to go on the warrant was to give the people the opportunity to vote, yes or no,” she said.