(from the
June 2007 Maine Townsman)

Augusta : The planning board has rejected a request to rezone a residential parcel to allow construction of an $8 million to $10 million Hampton Inn & Suites after other hoteliers complained the capital’s hospitality business could not support another hotel.

Brunswick: The city council has approved a ban on outdoor wood boilers from May 1 through September 30 and voted to require they be registered with the town. Further, only seasoned and untreated wood can be burned in the controversial backyard boilers.

Cumberland: The town will lose Chebeague Island as part of the municipality when the Casco Bay island becomes its own town on July 1. The 350 year-round islanders seceded after 186 years of being part of the Town of Cumberland. One reason behind the secession was fear of losing their only school which many thought would lead to the loss of their year-round economy. Meanwhile, the Legislature in May rejected a request by Peaks Island residents to secede from the city of Portland.

Lewiston: The city will raise residential values by 20 percent under a plan to avoid a full-blown property revaluation that would increase the values of many homes by more than 100 percent. A full reval was postponed last year in favor of a phased-in program over three years.

Mexico: Veteran police officer Michael Richard, 57, of Rumford resigned from the Mexico and Rumford police departments in May after losing his state certification after 34 years. Richard was convicted of criminal threatening in March for allegedly choking his estranged wife in July 2006.

Millinocket: Councilors voted themselves a raise in May, the first in 15 years, from $800 to $1,200 a year.

Naples: Concentrations of uranium above healthy levels has been found in town water that serves the town office, the historical society museum and a church. More study is being done to determine a plan of action.

Rockland: A small group of neighboring condominium owners have filed suit asking the court to reverse the town’s approval of 49 new units at the popular Samoset Resort. The group argues state law requires that both Rockland and Rockport planning boards review the plans since the project spills across the town line.

Rumford: The ink was hardly dry on the announcement that James Doar of Watervliet, N.Y., would take over as town manager when Doar received what selectmen called a “hateful” and “troubling” letter discouraging Doar from taking the Rumford job. Doar, a Maine native, said the nasty unsigned note would not deter him from showing up for his new job in early June.

Skowhegan: A citizen petition began circulating in early June calling for the removal of Philip Tarr as town manager. Tarr said the petition surprised him, as well as the notion that he is responsible for the town’s budget problems.

South Portland: The city council voted unanimously in early May to impose a strict anti-graffiti law that is believed to be the first in Maine. Under the new ordinance, minors will face stiff fines if they are seen in public with spray paint or any other graffiti tool. It is the first time a Maine community has decided to take pre-emptive action against the concrete artists, rather than having to actually catch them in the act. The council also voted to install cameras as another way to reduce vandalism in the city.

Sanford: The Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission has established a $1 million revolving loan fund to help municipalities finance the clean up of old mill buildings. The money comes from the federal Brownfields program of the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection. The cities of Auburn and Westbrook also received $200,000 each under the EPA grant program.

St. John Valley: The northern Mane towns of Madawaska, Frenchville and St. Agatha will share a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant to rehab low-income houses throughout the region. In April, the municipal trio landed a $150,000 community enterprise grant by combining all of their needs into one application.

Thorndike: Selectmen have agreed to open some town roads to all-terrain vehicle traffic despite concerns for public safety and private property. Almost 10 roads will be open to ATV travel to connect existing off-road trails.

Waldoboro: Selectmen have accepted a citizen petition calling for the reinstatement of the traditional open town meeting, just months after voters endorsed referendum-style, secret ballot voting. Some of the petitioners said many voters thought the traditional town meeting would continue even with the secret balloting when they cast their votes last December.

Waterboro: Town Hall employees recently voted 5-4 to join the Teamsters Union. The union drive was in response to the town asking nine non-union employees to begin paying 10 percent of their health insurance premiums. Teamsters Local 340 is considering challenging that proposal as an “unfair labor practice.”

Wells: An outside investigation has concluded that the Board of Selectmen did not retaliate against the police department because of the arrest of Selectman Scott DeFelice last November. Police Chief Richard Connelly had made comments alleging the selectmen had imposed a hiring freeze on the department and taken other action in response to the arrest. The outside probe was led by the law firm Bernstein Shur at the request of the town manager.

Wilton: The police department, trying to rebuild after years of turmoil and strife with the district attorney and others, hosted an open house in late May so the community could meet the department’s new officers, tour the police station and enjoy hotdogs and hamburgers grilled by new Police Chief Dennis Brown.