(from the July 2009 Maine Townsman)
From Around the State and City Hall
Bar Harbor: Voters rejected a moratorium on development in the village of Town Hill during last month’s annual town meeting. More than 1,000 residents attended the meeting, reportedly the highest town meeting turnout in nearly 30 years. The proposed moratorium, prompted by a proposal from Hannaford Bros. to build a store in the area, was defeated by a vote of 499-606.
Camden: Voters approved a six-month moratorium in June stopping franchise stores from locating in the downtown district while ordinances are being developed to better regulate this type of commercial development in the downtown area. The vote was prompted by a citizen petition and passed by a vote of 230-180. The petition was inspired after the chain, Dunkin’ Donuts, sought approval to open a store in the historic downtown.
Dayton: Town meeting voters in early June approved spending $258,000 from surplus to hold the property tax rate steady for the municipal budget. Meanwhile, the new school district that includes Dayton, Old Orchard Beach and Saco is expected to increase the town’s tax rate by 1.1 mills.
Dover-Foxcroft: A special town meeting will be held in July to consider imposing a moratorium on new subdivisions and mobile home parks. The request was made to selectmen by the town planning board, which asked for time to update the local land use ordinance. Voters will decide on the moratorium this month and vote on the revised land use ordinance in November.
Gouldsboro: Voters in June narrowly affirmed the town’s $1.50 per-bag solid waste fee -- an incentive to recycle passed during a special town meeting last August. The vote was 90-86.
Hope: After lengthy consideration, on June 15 annual town meeting voters approved two percent pay raises for town employees as well as endorsing $6,000 for stipends for the town’s 20 volunteer firefighters.
Jonesport: The municipal building ceiling over the fire department and assessor’s office collapsed in late May for an unknown reason, bringing down tiles, insulation, wiring and light fixtures.
Kennebunk: Voters in both Kennebunk and neighboring Wells held their final annual town meetings in June. Attendance was 136 and 118, respectively, illustrating one of the key reasons the towns are moving to referendum-style town meetings so more residents will vote on local spending and issues.
Phillips: A severe thunder and rain storm in late June washed out seven roads, including state Route 142 to Salem. Crews worked 12 hours to remove rocks, mud and trees so the roads could be opened to one-lane traffic. Roads in some of the surrounding Franklin County towns also flooded, but Phillips sustained the most damage.
Pownal: In what was described as a “protest vote” by citizen petitioners, town residents voted 342-64 to reverse its support for the town joining Freeport and Durham in a new consolidated school unit. The school consolidation law passed two years ago does not have withdrawal language in it that would allow towns to change their minds once a vote is taken to form a regional school unit (RSU). Last November, voters from all three towns approved the new RSU.
Readfield: Residents favored building new athletic fields during the annual town meeting in June, but rejected a plan to buy the former Readfield Grange property for $40,000, which town officials described as “an incredible deal.”
South Portland: Despite support from the voters who did show up for June balloting to change the city charter and to borrow $3 million for a new wastewater treatment pump station, turnout was too low for the measures to take effect under the charter’s rules.
Stockton Springs: A section of coast has been destroyed by the heavy rains of June, causing a landslide on June 25 that forced road closures and warnings to residents to stay away. Three homes were believed at risk, particularly should another landslide occur. All three are summer homes situated where a 200-foot section of the coastal bluff collapsed into the Penobscot River.
Van Buren: Town meeting voters were told the municipal surplus stood at $1.7 million, far higher than thought when auditors first started reviewing financial records. Town Manager Thomas Cannon said a surplus of $500,000 is sufficient for the town of about 2,600 residents. Voters decided not to add more to the surplus this year, as well as to increase the ambulance budget by $165,300 to $512,400 allowing more ambulance staff to be hired.
Veazie: The town has donated its 1980 fire truck to neighboring Beddington after replacing it with a newer model. Fire officials said Beddington was one of 50 towns that requested the 1980 pumper truck. A common theme among all the applying towns was that they felt they could not afford to buy even used fire trucks at their present cost.