Town of Lamoine, Maine
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Lamoine Board of Selectmen
Minutes of December 3, 2009
Chair Jo Cooper called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM
Present were: Selectmen Richard Fennelly Jr., Kermit Theall, Gary McFarland, Cynthia Donaldson, S. Josephine Cooper; Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon, Road Commissioner/Deputy CEO/Alt. Planning Board Member/Assessor Michael Jordan, Assessors Jane Fowler, Terry Towne; Conservation Commission members Annie Crisafulli, Nancy Pochan, Amy Morley, Carol Korty, David Schick, Robert Pulver and Kenneth Smith.
Agenda Review/Addendum Stu reported a request from the Snowmobile Club for permission to enlarge the parking lot could be dealt with swiftly and is on the addendum. The Board agreed to move that item up.
Minutes of November 19, 2009 Jo moved to approve the minutes as presented. Richard 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.
Warrant 11 Selectmen signed warrant #11 for $32,475.83. Stu noted that firefighter reimbursements made it a long, but not particularly large warrant.
Cash & Budget Report There were no questions regarding the written report.
Foreclosures Stu reported there have been no changes in the list he presented in the board members' packets. One item should be dealt with in executive session.
Request of Frenchman Bay Riders Snowmobile Club Ken Smith said he was present to answer questions in regard to the proposal to enlarge the parking lot at the snowmobile club building which sits on town owned land. Stu reported the Planning Board and Code Enforcement Office had given their approval to the proposal. He said the lease with the snowmobile club requires written permission from the Selectmen and he had drafted a letter granting such. Selectmen looked over the sketch of the plan. Jo moved to sign the permission letter. Richard 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0, Selectmen signed the letter.
Meeting with Board of Assessors Jo explained the Selectmen are trying to meet with all the town boards. She thanked the Board of Assessors for their work and time. She said this was an opportunity to express concerns and make suggestions.
Assessor Chair Jane Fowler said things are going fine. Jo asked about the quarter review process. Mrs. Fowler said that was going great. Jo said it's a real money saver. Assessor Terry Towne said the assessors are on the road anyway, so it doesn't add a lot of work to the burden.
Jo asked if there were any issues the Selectmen need to be aware of. Mrs. Fowler said Stu keeps the Selectmen well informed of assessing activity. Jo asked what kind of building trends are happening. She said the Board is looking at business development. Mr. Towne said that is outside the jurisdiction of the Assessors. Cynthia asked if there is more high end building going on. Mr. Towne said it appears to be fairly evenly distributed among moderate and higher cost starts, and a lot of the projects are in subdivisions. He said it's pretty diverse.
Richard said he'd received 3-calls indicating there had been some sort of change in the way that shore frontage was being assessed on larger parcels where homes might be located outside of the Shoreland zone. He said that seems to be a different way of assessing. Mr. Towne said that may be the perception of the individual who's calling. He said if one has a house on a road and shore frontage, there is a water influence that goes into the valuation. He said the assessors and the state looked at several such properties. Mrs. Fowler said that method of valuation had not changed in many years. She asked if Richard had referred the callers to speak with the Assessors directly. Richard said he had. Mr. Towne said people with concerns are welcome to attend an assessors meeting. There was a brief discussion about water influence.
Jo asked if taxpayers have questions, should they call the Assessors. Mrs. Fowler said they should and they can attend a meeting. There was a brief discussion about which board taxpayers should go to. Mr. Towne said the Assessors' goal is to treat everyone the same. Jo said she appreciates all the time the Assessors put in and asked if there is anything the Selectmen can do to support the Assessors better. Mr. Towne said the Assessors take for granted that Selectmen get their information through Stu. Stu asked if the Assessors are getting enough staff support. Mrs. Fowler said they are. Mr. Towne said the staff makes it easy; the board generally has to just review the numbers the staff prepares.
Gary said he'd gotten the same calls as Richard. He asked if the valuation criteria are readily available. Mr. Towne said all the cards are public documents. He suggested that the reason Selectmen are getting called instead of the Assessors is that the taxpayers are not happy with their assessments. Mrs. Fowler said the assessors will show taxpayers about anything they want to see. Jo said the best thing is to refer them to the source. Mr. Towne said there are all kinds of means to publicly review valuations, and if the board makes an error, they are not obligated to continue with the same mistake.
Jo reminded the Assessors they are free to come meet anytime something comes up. Mr. Towne invited the Selectmen to attend an Assessors meeting as well.
Bottle Request Conservation Commission Jo asked which month would be next in rotation. Stu said either February or March. He said the Conservation Commission doesn't have a fund, and suggested that short of town meeting action in April the Selectmen temporarily establish a fund. Jo moved to establish a temporary Conservation Commission fund and to assign the bottle proceeds from the next available month to that fund. Richard 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.
Fire Department Lot Stu reported the Planning Board turned down the proposed lot delineation to separate the fire department from the RSU lot, as expected. He said he has prepared an appeal. Jo said she didn't have time to read the appeal. Stu asked if the Selectmen would like to have that on the next meeting agenda. Jo said yes. Stu said he had called Steve Salsbury to make some corrections and provide additional data on the plan.
Code Enforcement Complaint Stu reported the written report from the Code Enforcement Officer refers to a situation on Francis Drive. Jo said it looks like the right steps are being taken. Cynthia asked for clarification on the location.
Stu said the CEO is looking for advice on how to proceed. He said there's a chance a tax foreclosure will take place. He said the CEO visited the property to knock on the owner's door and there was no answer. He said he and the CEO took a quick look around and took some pictures. He said to properly follow procedure, a search warrant was likely needed.
Cynthia expressed concern about a refrigerator with a door on it being stored outside. Stu said he's not sure about how to proceed in that regard, but a search warrant is likely necessary. Cynthia asked what the town's obligation is to protect the public. A short discussion followed.
Jo asked if adult protective services was contacted. Stu said he did, and that prompted the welfare check with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department. He said he would try to find about the refrigerator situation with law enforcement. He said there are private property issues at this point and the town needs to be careful to follow the proper procedure. He said he would communicate the safety concern to CEO Dennis Ford.
Business Development Stu reported he met earlier in the day with Roxanne Jobe of Eastern Maine Development Corporation. He said she suggested that Todd Gabe who specializes in community development with the University of Maine be in contact and she would make that contact. Jo said Janet Toth of the City of Ellsworth has been impressed by the progress thus far.
Regional Shellfishing Ordinance Richard said he distributed information with material left at the table tonight in regard to startup costs of a regional shellfish conservation effort. He said the original estimate at $10,000/town looks to be less. He said the operations and maintenance budget on page 2 nets to $15,800 which would be split among the municipalities. He said the capital startup could utilize used equipment, and he might donate some of that. He said the operations and maintenance costs seemed very reasonable.
Richard said there was some discussion about asking the City of Ellsworth to be the administrative unit and 10% of the revenues would be retained by the administering community. Kermit asked about a figure of $11,950, which is a startup cost for the current fiscal year. A discussion about revenues and expenses followed. There was a discussion about the ordinance and licenses sales.
Jo said the joint effort is something to brag about. Carol Korty said she would like a copy of the proposed ordinance for the Conservation Commission. Stu said he would e-mail a copy to Fred Stocking. Ms. Korty said Jim Norris told the Conservation Commission he would welcome their help. Richard said shorefront litter pickup at public access points is highly likely as diggers need to do some conservation service time to obtain a license.
Christmas is for Families Stu reported the American Legion post in Trenton is doing its program a little differently this year, and that potentially threatens confidentiality. He said the Legion promised to drop off gifts for him to distribute if folks don't attend their party. He said he mailed out the American Legion invitations to the families he identified earlier in the day.
New Fire Truck Stu reported the new truck has not yet arrived there is a problem with the compressed foam system. He said he hopes to be able to show it off at the next meeting.
Transfer Station Privy Stu reported the site evaluator suggested and designed a pit privy as opposed to a vault system. He said it's lower cost and more functional. Jo suggested the project be put out to bid. Stu said he would draw up bid documents at the next meeting.
School/Snow Removal Stu said he'd sent an e-mail to the Selectmen suggesting an offer to RSU # 24 of 50% of the school's snow removal budget for this year as the cost to plow the school where the town still contracts to do the job with Nankervis. Kermit said he liked the response from Richard which was to initially bill the school for its entire budget based on the state's insistence of forming RSUs. Richard said the state has not lived up to its 55% funding, and his response was based on letting the state take care of it and live up to its obligation. He said the lack of state funding will come back on the communities. He said the cost of plowing was already budgeted locally. He said the offer is a good idea so long as it doesn't violate any statute of funding an RSU expense with town raised funds. There was a brief discussion. Cynthia asked if the snowplowing was included in the RSU budget. Stu said he thought it was. The board did not object to the 50% offer.
Mill Road Speed Limit Kermit said he found the request interesting in light of a recent police chase on the densely populated section of the road. Stu said there are no speed limit signs posted, and the deputy involved in the chase suggested the speed change and sign posting. Cynthia asked if there are other roads that might qualify for a lower limit. Annie Crisafulli said they have a problem on their road. Stu said the MDOT had already looked at Seal Point Road and determined no change in speed limit was needed. Stu suggested Walker Road is getting built up pretty heavily and might qualify.
Jo moved to request a 25-mile an hour speed limit on a section of Mill Road. Richard 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.
Amy Morley said the street sign at the intersection of Raccoon Cove Road is difficult to see from Partridge Cove Road. Stu said it was posted on the stop sign, and the stop sign can't really be moved practically anywhere else. A short discussion followed. Carol Korty said there should be a sign indicating that Route 1 can be accessed via Mud Creek Road.
Next Meeting The next Board of Selectmen meeting will be December 17, 2009.
Other Water Extraction Moratorium
Nancy Pochan read a prepared statement and proposed a moratorium on the bulk extraction of water for transport out of town. Jo asked what the steps were to do that. Ms. Crisafulli said in Hancock the Selectmen and Planning Board met jointly and opted to place the issue before town meeting. Jo said she had no problem with the idea. She said the Conservation Commission has been looking at the issue. She said the town meeting will be in the spring, and it must be the town's decision.
Stu reported the Planning Board is in the process of drafting a series of amendments to address the concerns expressed by the Conservation Commission. He said the initial draft goes for an informational hearing on January 19, 2010, and most likely something would be ready for a vote at the annual town meeting, so a moratorium would be a moot point.
Jo asked for the reason for concern. Ms. Pochan asked what would happen if someone came before the Planning Board with an application for a large scale water extraction operation. She said the town has not really discussed the issue a lot. Jo asked whether this is the issue being addressed by the Planning Board. Ms. Pochan asked what would stop an outfit from applying. She said it's a huge issue and people have not had a chance to get on board with protection measures.
Cynthia asked that the process be clarified. Stu said the Planning Board plans to first hold an informational meeting to offer up its draft ordinance changes, incorporate those suggestions, and come back for a final public hearing before a town meeting vote in April.
Ms. Morley said the Conservation Commission felt it would be good to have a moratorium in place as well. Stu said a moratorium is simply designed to give the town a chance to develop an ordinance, and that is already taking place. Jo said wind turbines are a similar situation. Kermit asked whether if the ordinance fails, would there be a request for a moratorium to develop other ordinance changes.
Jo said she's not opposed to the idea, and likes the idea of people working together. A short discussion followed. She said she would like to see a template of a moratorium with a defined period of time. She said she would not be opposed to a special town meeting.
Carol Korty said she didn't want to imply that the Conservation Commission has not worked with the Planning Board. She said that her concerns are that a moratorium be called earlier than the annual town meeting to protect groundwater just in case some proposal does come forth. She asked what would happen if the town voted no. Richard said if they do, that would be the town's wish. Ms. Korty said a moratorium might give enough time for public education. She asked what the time frame is for imposing a moratorium. Stu said the process most likely would be to develop a moratorium ordinance, and the question is who does that. He said the earliest this likely could get to a special town meeting would be in late January, depending on which voting process is used.
Jo said she would like Planning Board input on this. She said she was not opposed and could see no harm. She said the Planning Board has apparently said a moratorium is not necessary. Richard asked whether the Conservation Commissioners were concerned that the language being proposed by the Planning Board doesn't meet their goal, or if they're concerned that it won't get before the town soon enough. Ms. Morley said the timing issue seems to be weighted more heavily. A short discussion followed.
Ms. Morley said other communities have benefitted from a moratorium because then the town is not under pressure if the moratorium is in place. Richard asked what would happen if the town were to vote the ordinance changes down would the moratorium still be in place or would it expire. Stu said that depended on how the moratorium is worded, but if the goal is to give the town a chance to develop an ordinance, and one is developed, and it is turned down, once the vote is disposed of, the moratorium is likely no longer needed.
Ms. Crisafulli said a moratorium is about giving a town a chance to discuss an issue. Richard asked about the end date of a moratorium. A discussion followed in regard to the moratorium process. Kermit said the language in a moratorium ordinance gives time for the town to develop an ordinance. Ms. Korty said the Town of Hancock is working on its ordinance wording. A discussion followed on what would happen if an ordinance were turned down.
David Schick said the hope is to provide additional time to educate the community. He said they are asking to stop any potential development for now. He said the issue is serious enough that he would like to guarantee enough time for education. He said the Planning Board is doing good work. Richard asked who would provide the education. Mr. Schick said the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board would provide some, but he was unsure who else would. Richard said education could be ongoing now while the Planning Board is in the development process. He asked if having a moratorium in place would afford time for more than the 15-to-20 people who show up at such meetings. Mr. Schick asked what would happen if the Planning Board needs some more time.
Michael Jordan said the Planning Board is already working on the ordinance, and hearings will start in January. He said the town would vote on the amendments at town meeting, and they will either deny or approve the proposed changes. He said a moratorium is a moot point. He said it might gain, at most, 4-weeks. Jo asked if the Planning Board would address the issue. Mr. Jordan said they would, but there is no perfect ordinance that will satisfy everyone.
Jo asked if the message from the Conservation Commission was that this is an immediate threat. Ms. Pochan said they're not saying that, but there could be. She said the issue is to get more people involved and education. A short discussion followed. Ms. Morley said it has not been difficult in other communities to pass a moratorium. She said it was sort of a no brainer to buy some time, and it seems like prudent behavior.
Jo said she's not against the idea of a moratorium. She said a moratorium usually starts when nothing is happening to develop an ordinance. She said it sounds like the Planning Board is working on one. She said she is concerned about the process and would like to have some communication from the Planning Board at the next meeting and have some official discussion. She said she's hearing the Conservation Commission members, but it must be done in a sensible way. Richard said there doesn't appear to be any downside in protecting the town. He asked if someone were to make such an application, could a moratorium be done then. Stu said it depends on the moratorium wording, but some have been done retroactively.
Kermit asked if the Selectmen want input from the Planning Board, wouldn't that set things back a bit. Jo said she would like to see something in writing from the Conservation Commission. Stu asked for a moment to retrieve the Conservation Commission Ordinance, and read the following passage from the ordinance:
The Commission shall submit its recommendations for ordinance changes or other policy initiatives pursuant to this Ordinance to the Planning Board at least 30 days in advance of submitting such recommendations to the municipal officers for action.
Jo said she would like to keep with the process, and a discussion on that process followed. Jo said she would like to see something on paper in regard to a moratorium. Ms. Korty said she hoped the town would come to the meetings that the Planning Board and Conservation Commission hold, and vote for the changes. She said the town has often turned down amendments and few come to the hearings. A short discussion followed on why previous ordinances were turned down and the ordinance development and passage process.
Ms. Korty said if a moratorium were in place and action takes place on an ordinance, that doesn't end the moratorium. Jo said she would like to talk to the Planning Board. A short discussion followed on the politics or ordinance passage. Jo said the Conservation Commission needs to talk to the Planning Board and figure out what is necessary. She said water is the town's biggest issue, and the town needs to proceed carefully.
Ms. Morley said the Planning Board didn't think a moratorium was needed when they talked in the past, but that doesn't mean the Planning Board wouldn't say OK to one now. Mr. Schick said he came here as an individual, not as part of an official effort of the Conservation Commission. A discussion about the Right to Know Law and Public Meeting Laws followed.
Jo said the Conservation Commission will discuss this issue at their next meeting, draft a moratorium ordinance for Lamoine, and present it to the Planning Board. She said the Selectmen would invite the Planning Board to the next Selectmen's meeting to discuss the issue. Ms. Morley asked how far in advance a draft is needed. Mr. Jordan said the Planning Board meets the 1 st Tuesday in January. Cynthia said there will have to be a workshop. Bob Pulver said he understands the Conservation Commission would create a document, coordinate with the Planning Board, and get back to the Selectmen. He said he has no objection to proceeding with a moratorium, but agreed it must be done properly. Jo said the proper way is to present the moratorium to the Planning Board.
Budget Workshop Selectmen reviewed the proposed revenue budget and made no changes in the proposal for the Budget Committee.
Executive Session Jo moved to go into executive session pursuant to 36MRSA § 841 (2)(E) Poverty/Infirmity Abatement. Kermit 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0. In at 9:08 PM, out at 9:22 PM.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:22 PM.
Stu Marckoon, Adm. Asst.