WISCASSET — Residents continue to be divided about the Maine Department of Transportation’s controversial plan to reshape the traffic pattern in the town’s historic downtown village.

More than 100 people attended the Select Board meeting Tuesday at the Wiscasset Community Center, and more than two dozen spoke during a 2-hour public hearing regarding the MDOT plan and the pending lawsuit filed by the town against the department.

Residents will vote on whether to continue the lawsuit filed by the town against Maine DOT regarding the Wiscasset traffic project from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 17, at Wiscasset Community Center.

Travis Lester’s father owns a downtown business — Wiscasset Village Antiques – and said he’s seen what the summer traffic jams can do to a local small business. He called the traffic situation in the busiest months a “dumpster fire” and said he believes so much of the opposition to the MDOT plan has been baffling.

Margaret Zieg said Selectmen Ben Rines, Bob Blagden and Katharine Martin-Savage have betrayed the town and cast the town in a worse light than it already was.

“Wiscasset is a town that needs new businesses and young people to keep it flourishing,” Zieg said. “What you have done is a disgrace.”

But there were plenty of people who spoke in support of the town’s position.

“I’m completely in favor of pushing the lawsuit forward,” resident Ann Davis said. “I think what the Select Board is doing is courageous and they are defending us like nobody has before.”

Davis said MDOT is directly threatening the historic village and downtown small businesses, and  the lawsuit should continue so that an impartial court can decide the project’s fate.

The town sued MDOT on Nov. 28 over the state’s $5 million plan to ease the notorious summertime traffic bottlenecks in the village center after Gov. Paul LePage’s administration allegedly backed away from key promises and asserted the state didn’t have to comply with local ordinances.

In a motion filed in early March, attorneys representing the town said MDOT  told them it might simply drop a component of the project: Creating parking lots off nearby side streets to make up for the lost parking spots on Main Street.

The motion asks the state Business and Consumer Court in Portland to prevent work on any part of the project from commencing until the department seeks and receives the town’s historic preservation review.

“This raises the possibility that MDOT might seek to build a truncated project that strips all parking from Main Street, but does not provide any off-street parking in its place, a configuration that was never reviewed or discussed with the town and that does even more violence to the local interests than the original scheme,” attorney John Shumadine wrote in the filing.

The transportation department contends that the town’s historic preservation ordinance is not a zoning ordinance, and therefore it isn’t forced to comply with the ordinance under state law.

The town argues that the project, and numerous components, must comply with the town’s historic preservation ordinance and must receive one or more certificates of appropriateness from Wiscasset’s historic preservation commission.

“The town’s position has legal merit in my opinion and it’s relatively strong,” town attorney Peter Murray said.

John Washburn said he likes attending meetings where there are many different opinions and said it’s good for the community. He’s most concerned with MDOT stepping into Wiscasset and taking over, and he’s afraid of what the future of Wiscasset would be if the project goes forward.

“I think we’ll lose the moniker of being the ‘prettiest village in Maine’ if we let MDOT take over,” Washburn said.

The center of Wiscasset’s village is a district of 18th- and 19th-centruy buildings named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

There are notorious summer traffic jams 2 to 3 miles long on Route 1 on the north — by famous lobster roll purveyor Red’s Eats — and south approaches to the Davey Bridge that spans the Sheepscot River. The state has been trying to solve the problem for more than 50 years.

The state’s latest plan was unveiled in spring 2016 and promised to improve traffic flow at its worst by 12 percent to 14 percent, mostly by adding two traffic lights and “bump out” pedestrian-crossing waiting areas in the village — components that no one opposes.

But it also seeks to remove parking on Main Street — currently 23 spaces — and parts of key side streets, measures that the state’s studies say account for just 2 percent to 4 percent of flow improvement.

The DOT plans to make a presentation April 12 to the court at a hearing on the town’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the project.