A salt and sand shed referendum was defeated Tuesday by a vote of 31-43.

Thorndike officials said a new committee was formed to look at what the town should do next.

The state Department of Environmental Protection found the town's previous salt and sand pile at 95 Unity Road inadequate and gave the town an ultimatum — either build a new storage facility that is up to code or risk fines.

With the coronavirus-related postponement of the annual town meeting, DEP granted Thorndike an extension by DEP to continue its current salt and sand shed arrangement through the 2020-2021 winter season.

The July 7 public hearing on the salt and sand shed drew criticism from residents over the fact that selectmen did not provide quotes for engineering and construction. Residents also felt the $400,000 price tag was excessive.

Abutters claimed they were not given notice of the hearing and said the value of their building (the town post office) would decline.

The town now is faced with a large tarred tract of land for which it paid $136,000, with no structure on it.

Town officials did not know if the initiative would be placed on the town warrant for the Aug. 22 town meeting.