(from the
December 2007 Maine Townsman)

Bath: Voters rejected a request to bond $3.5 million to close the city landfill in what has been a contentious issue for months. The 1,188-949 vote means the city will expand the facility to add another containment cell, which should buy another 10 years of use. The landfill would then be closed in 2019. Last year, the city sought and received voter approval to bond $4.5 million for a gas mitigation system to reduce the smell at the landfill, and also for a new waste cell.

Belfast: After years of sometimes-heated debate, multiple local referendums and months spent amending the city’s zoning laws to accommodate a Wal-Mart Supercenter, city leaders now fear the retail giant may not be so interested any more. Although voters were divided about wanting a large retail store, the city council heard enough concerns about the lack of competitive shopping to designate land on Route 3 for a so-called Big Box store.

Bryon: Voters eliminated so-called “cluster housing” in the tiny western Maine town out of concern that some developers could use wetlands, swamps and other unusable land as the “open space” required under the previous rule. The change, passed on a 40-16 vote, means housing lots must now be at least 10 acres in size.

Fayette: Selectmen won’t decide until January whether to set a date for a special town meeting on school reorganization. That gives them time to meet with the school board and town budget committee before moving ahead.

Kennebunk: A study committee has recommended that selectmen in Kennebunk and Wells continue to hire separate police chiefs, but are hopeful the two town departments can find other ways to share costs and services. The conclusion frees the two towns to begin searching for new chiefs, while at the same time allowing the two communities to seek more state grants to continue studying other options.

Kennebunkport: Three was the charm for voters in Kennebunkport, who approved spending $300,000 for a town-wide property revaluation. The vote was 800-715, with 56 percent of registered voters casting ballots. The question has failed twice before as residents feared the property-tax consequences of updating the market value of homes and businesses, particularly seaside property whose value has increased dramatically since the last reval in 1998.

Kingfield: The Kingfield Water District has received a federal grant of $750,000 toward the $1.2 million cost of drilling a secondary water supply and upgrading water pipes to ensure residents have plenty of water while also feeding a new Poland Spring bottling plant. The town credited the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments for writing the grant application that will relieve much of the cost to ratepayers.

Kittery: Six York County towns will ask the Maine Legislature next year to allow them to form the Southern York County Regional Development Authority to work together regarding growth, including building an industrial business park. Representatives of the towns, which include Kittery, Wells, Berwick, Eliot, South Berwick and North Berwick, as well as residents and business owners, were expected to attend a public meeting in mid-December on the plan.

Lincoln: Stepped-up patrolling around the town’s 14 lakes has reduced shoreline violations from 31 in 2005 to zero this year, according to Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Davis. The new numbers, presented last month to selectmen, also show that housing starts around the town’s lakes has increased from 14 to 24 over the past year, indicating Davis’s patrolling efforts have been highly successful.

Lincolnville: The town council is considering moving the day of the annual town meeting from Saturday to Thursday evening to encourage more residents to attend. Town Administrator David Kinney told the board about as many people attended town meeting whether they were held on a week night or a Saturday. Meanwhile, selectmen in nearby Warren voted last month to move town meeting back to Saturday from Tuesday night to encourage higher attendance.

New Sharon: A local contractor who plowed the town’s roads for two years has pulled his lawsuit against the town and selectmen because, he said, a legal battle just as winter begins could hurt the community. Robert Ames alleged the bidding process was unfair when he did not get the contract, despite offering the lowest bid, because of reported complaints about his work. Ames plans to take up the matter at the next town meeting.

Richmond: The town has agreed to loan $100,000 to Micro Technologies Inc. to move and expand its operation; and $20,000 to The Texas Barbeque Co. for relocation costs and equipment when it moves from Auburn in December. The loans are issued at 5 percent interest from a revolving loan fund created from proceeds of a tax increment financing deal with Maritimes and Northeast.

Rockport: Voters rejected a non-binding question that asked whether the town should change the annual town meeting from open floor debate and voting to a secret balloting process. The vote was 483-352.

Saco: The city has decided to buy a two-seat electric car for city use, particularly the code enforcement officer, at a cost of $10,700. The Zenn can get to 25 MPH and can only be driven in zones that are 35 MPH or less.

Standish: The town’s plans to build a new community center were dashed last month after vernal pools were discovered on land the town bought last year for $325,000. It’s unclear whether the town can find another site for the project.

Wilton: Problems with the town’s new property revaluation continued to trouble selectmen in November, when there were still 80 outstanding requests for tax abatements. Town Manager Peter Nielsen said the company hired to do the town-wide revaluation has not finished it work, while the town’s assessor, James Jurdak, who works just one day a week, is working extra days to clear up some of the backlog. Nielsen was told to pay Jurdak for his extra work out of the final payment due to the assessing company.