Town of Lamoine, Maine
Town of Lamoine
Minutes of September 2, 2004
Josephine Cooper, chair of the Board of Selectmen called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Present were: Selectmen Josephine Cooper, Glenn Crawford; Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon, Committee members Tammy Dickey, Dennis Ford, Michael Garrett, Bethany Hanson, Brett Jones, Michael Jordan, Lance Landon, Dale Macurdy, Reggie McDevitt, Kathleen Rybarz, Fred Stocking, Jack Thibeault, John Wuorinen; members of the public Craig & Evelyn Milner, Gerald Ford and Kenneth Fredette (and son).
Appointment – Selectmen Cooper and Crawford signed appointment papers for all committee members. Those present swore to their oath of office administered by Deputy Clerk Stu Marckoon. (Kathleen Rybarz arrived after the swearing in and signed her oath after the meeting adjourned).
Organizational Meeting – Selectman Cooper said once the chair is chosen, they should run the meeting. John Wuorinen nominated Fred Stocking to chair. Tammy Dickey 2nd. Mr. Stocking said he’s already the chair of another committee and not keen to do this. Selectman Crawford suggested Brett Jones. Mr. Jones said he’d be willing to do it. Mrs. Dickey withdrew her 2nd to Mr. Stocking’s nomination and Mr. Wuorinen withdrew his nomination. Mrs. Dickey nominated Mr. Jones as Chair. Bethany Hanson 2nd. The committee voted in favor.
Vice Chair – Mr. Wuorinen nominated Mr. Stocking for vice-chairman. Michael Garrett 2nd. Mr. Stocking agreed to serve in that capacity. The committee voted in favor of the motion.
Secretary – Mr. Jones nominated Mr. Garrett as Secretary. Mr. Wuorinen 2nd. The committee voted in favor of the motion.
Goals – Mr. Jones said the committee did not have a lot of direction from the Board of Selectmen, and asked the committee what it wanted to do. Dennis Ford said the committee should paint a picture of what the town will look like in 20-years. Ms. Hanson said the College of the Atlantic (COA) did a nice job with its recent presentation and maps of the town. She suggested doing a survey of what townspeople want, because nothing the committee proposed would fly if they didn’t try to find out what the citizens were thinking. Mr. Jones said there was a survey done of town committee members that led to the formation of this committee. Lance Landon asked if there were any build out maps. Discussion followed on how to make those available, whether on-line or by CD-ROM. Ms. Hanson said many people were shocked when they saw the potential on the COA maps.
Mr. Landon asked if a moratorium on subdivisions was still on the table. Selectman Cooper said the Selectmen have talked about a moratorium first brought up by CEO Ford. She said for it to occur the town would have to vote. She said she’d rather wait for a recommendation from this committee. She said the discussion she’s heard has been 50/50 on whether a moratorium is needed. Michael Jordan said there is a limited time to act before the November election. Mr. Stocking said state statutes give a specific time and purpose and a goal for moratoria. Mr. Jones said fire protection is on his mind, and water supplies are an issue. He said that’s a legitimate reason to put a moratorium in place. He said there are a lot of questions to address.
Mr. Landon asked if groundwater impact is a concern of the town. Mr. Stocking said the Mitchell Center in Orono would be updating the Gerber Study. He said a graduate student working on that will meet with the Conservation Commission next Wednesday night. He said Andrew Tolman of Maine Rural Water would be here on October 20th. Mr. Jones asked if the models used in the 1983 Gerber Study are any different than now. He said that would be helpful to know.
Mr. Wuorinen said the first moratorium could only be up to 180-days, and if the town demonstrates progress, it could be extended another 180-days. Discussion followed on whether the Selectmen or the Town Meeting had the authority to extend a moratorium.
Selectman Crawford said the idea was to gather information, not make decisions. He said committee couldn’t make suggestions to the Selectmen without background information. Evelyn Milner said it’s important to define a purpose for the committee. Mr. Jones said that’s why the committee is meeting tonight. Selectmen Crawford said part of the purpose is to look at the problems associated with the increase in development, inconsistencies in the ordinances, and the amount of subdivisions. Selectman Cooper said so much is happening so quickly, and the town hasn’t had a chance to address all of it. Selectman Crawford asked if we need categories such as facilities, land usage and the like. Selectman Cooper said at some point the words “comprehensive plan” may come into play.
Mr. Jones said the committee’s vision ought to be both long and short term. Ms. Hanson said the committee would need to do some outreach, or some sort of survey. Selectman Cooper said COA had offered to help with that. Mr. Jones asked how to do that. Ms. Hanson said as many ways as possible to get a good response. Discussion followed about a possible door to door campaign. Mr. Wuorinen said public relations would be a challenge. He said the word needs to get out accurately. Selectman Crawford said the people involved with the town come to the meetings, but most don’t seem to care.
Mr. Stocking said it will be interesting trying to confront the issues, and have some fun with them. He suggested a visioning session with different teams, and no particular goal in mind, but different ways to look at things down the road. He asked how you get the town in the mood for looking at its future. Adm. Asst. Marckoon said the committee has an offer from Cece Ohmart and Debbie Swanberg to act as facilitators. A short discussion followed on whether the time is right for that.
Dennis Ford said the goal is to education people. He said everything that happens in town affects everybody, and roads, traffic, and law enforcement are impacted by development. Mr. Jones suggested going around the room to find out what brought people to serve on the committee.
Mr. Wuorinen said it was hard to say there is only one issue. He said the land use ordinances are vague and conflicting and need improvement. He said another issue was the question of drinking water and waste disposal. He said Vail Colorado has walking and biking trails and now has a problem with an overabundance of bicyclists. He said the town could do some interesting things to make itself more appealing.
Ms. Hanson said she’s lived in Lamoine for 8 years and has seen a lot of things voted down. She said things have changed a lot in 8-years, and the changes have seemed to mushroom. She said she wants to see how the town is going to be developed.
Jack Thibeault said he moved back to Lamoine because it’s quite. He said he’s seeing more signs of building. He asked if we want 5-story apartments or a slow-moving, desirable place to live. He said land is going quickly.
Dale Macurdy said the issue has become what the town is. He said people build here because it’s an attractive community, but by building here, it makes it less so. He said we need to find the “town”, or maybe create a sense of “town”. He said PR is important to get people to look at things in similar ways.
Gerald Ford said the matter of industry needs some research. He said if there is no industry, the tax rate will rise. He said any business attempt goes through the “hammers of hell” to get here. Mr. Jones asked aside from the property valuation, what is the revenue source. Adm. Asst. Marckoon answered that the only taxing authority the town has is the property and personal property tax. Discussion followed on what types of industry would be appropriate.
Kenneth Fredette said he lives in Newport with a growing retail section. He said that has changed the town a little bit, but not substantially. He said he has small kids, and bought land here because it was quiet and similar to where he grew up in Washington County. He said he enjoyed the people of Lamoine. He said the committee needs to think about sending a message to those looking to locate here. He said there is a cost with children, but when people move into a town, they bring a lot with them that contributes to a community. He said a moratorium is a negative vibe. He said the town has a wonderful opportunity to attract young people. He said older people are building summer homes, but young people should be welcomed.
Reggie McDevitt said he’s spent most of his adult life in Lamoine, and not much has really changed. He said the developments will continue to come, and there is nothing wrong with it. He said some small things need adjusting, and roads need to be improved. He said he’d like to see a memorial in town. He said the town is going just fine, and is a bedroom town for Bar Harbor and Ellsworth.
Kathleen Rybarz said her interest in the committee comes from working in volunteer organizations and a favorite hobby is educating. She said she could see many different sides. He said she likes parks and walking, and that might be a long-term issue.
Michael Garrett said the town needs to get a grasp on water and land use issues. He said we need to know what we want to locate, and where it should be located. He said a tremendous amount of the town is devoted to the Rural and Agricultural Zone, and the town needs to look at its current zoning.
Fred Stocking said he believes in information-based decision-making. He said the information to make decisions needs to be accessible. He said he’d like to be pro-active, and determine where a good place is to put housing. He said the town has experienced a tremendous increase in subdivisions, yet the school population is dropping. He said there is pressure from the state for school consolidation. He said the school is a central part of the community, and if we’re to keep the school, we need to populate it.
Craig Milner said the group should called it a Community Education Program, not PR. He said as far as a time frame goes, 5-years is long term. He said that needs to be defined. He said if the same rate of change takes place over the next 20-years as has taken place in the past five, the town will look very different. He said he’s interested in seeing Lamoine retain its character for the future. He said subdivisions have brought the need for long-range planning to the forefront. He said from Asa’s Lane to the end of Lamoine Beach Road is now very different. He said he used to picture Lamoine as a rural community, but when walking along the Ridge Road, he sees clear cutting. He said it’s difficult to retain a community’s character and work within a regulatory nature. He urged the committee to blend subjective issues with regulation, and wondered how the manage the nibbling away of the woods.
Evelyn Milner said she’s been coming to Lamoine for 64 years. She said the character of the community is a wonderful small town. She said she has an interest in listening to what people want to do and see. She said regulations have to be used within the present structure of the town.
Tammy Dickey said she’s lived her 12-years, and her husband’s family has owned property here for 50-years. She said she can’t return to her childhood home of Southwest Harbor because property is no longer affordable there. She said she doesn’t want to see Lamoine grow and get too expensive for her children to move back here. She asked what the town is going to do with the school.
Michael Jordan said he’s lived here all his life, and has seen change, but nothing drastic. He said it’s still a quite town, and not out of character with the way it has been. Her said he was here to listen to different people and be a part of the planning process. He said he can see both sides of the subdivision issue. He said he doesn’t want someone to tell him what to do with his land.
Lance Landon said he recently moved here. He said he has been a civil engineer, and has experience with subdivisions, and the town needs to control them. He said he’s more into the nuts and bolts aspects of things, and a majority of the townspeople need to decide. He said Lamoine’s weakness is that it’s ½ hour away from Bar Harbor. He said he wants to help contribute to the town. He said small business is important, and he wants to keep people in town with small businesses. He said Lamoine does not have the infrastructure for large industry.
Dennis Ford said he is seeing uncontrolled growth. He said he has no problem with subdivisions, but there is the potential to cost the town a lot of money. He said we need to take care of the town, including roads. He said the town will not accept a subdivision road. He said if it did, it would be stuck with maintaining it, and that issue needs to be addressed now. He said his concern is with infrastructure in general, including police and fire. He said there is a lot of potential impact on the town. He said he doesn’t want to lose property that has been in his family for many years, but feared that he was going to get taxed out of his land. He said he wants to figure out a way to protect himself.
Brett Jones said his interest is with the nuts and bolts. He said he is also concerned with property rights. He said the town needs to find a balance.
Mr. Macurdy said he is also concerned about the transient nature of the population. He said his neighborhood on Fox Run has 9-houses with no children. He said the residents are part time and have little interest in the town and appear willing to be governed. Mr. Jones said he didn’t see how the town could fix that, and a short discussion followed. He said that might be a good topic for the next meeting, along with a survey or census of the town. Selectman Cooper said a lot of the census work has been done.
Mr. Wuorinen said clarifying property rights and balancing them with the community need is a complicated problem. Ms. Hanson asked if there had been a decision on the facilitator issue, and said it might be a good idea. Mr. Wuorinen moved to invite the facilitators to the next meeting. Mr. Landon 2nd. Mr. Macurdy said the group might want to wait until later, as often facilitators can take over the process. Administrative Assistant Marckoon noted that both facilitators live in town, and neither are “over the top” type of people who would be well suited to this process. Mr. Stocking said the group is still far from articulating its goals, and maybe those should be set next meeting.
Selectman Cooper said the Selectmen would like to discuss a timetable, and see a progress report from the group by the end of October. Mr. Jones said that was doable. Selectman Cooper said it was not a demand. Ms. Hanson said she had no experience with a facilitator. CEO Ford said the committee has to know its goals first. Mrs. Dickey said the facilitator would guide the meeting. Mr. Jones questioned whether the committee was ready for them. He suggested perhaps the right time would be after the group has come up with a goal. Vote was 3 in favor, 8 opposed. Motion failed.
The committee discussed having at least two meetings before reporting back to the Selectmen. It agreed to have bi-weekly meetings and set September 14th and 28th as the next two meeting dates, 7:00 PM at the Lamoine School. Adm. Asst. Marckoon handed out the town policy manual. Mr. Stocking suggested looking at the town zoning map as well, and the committee would need copies.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:33 PM
Stu Marckoon, Adm. Asst. to the Board of Selectmen