Maine ranks first in personal freedom

(photo by Eric W. Austin)

Falls to 39th in overall freedoms

Freedom in the 50 states, published by the Cato Institute, scores all 50 states according to how their public policies affect individual freedom.

The Cato Institute recently released the latest edition of Freedom in the 50 States, which ranks each U.S. state by how its public policies promote freedom in the fiscal, regulatory and personal freedom spheres. To determine these rankings, authors William Ruger and Jason Sorens examine state and local government intervention across a range of more than 230 policy variables – from taxation to debt, eminent domain laws to occupational licensing, and drug policy to educational choice.

Ruger and Sorens score all 50 states on their overall respect for individual freedom, and also on their respect for three separate dimension of freedom: fiscal policy and regulatory policy (which are combined to create the economic freedom score) and personal freedom. The index ranks Maine as the 39th freest in the nation in the overall rankings. By individual category, Maine scores 40th in fiscal policy, 44th in regulatory policy, and first in personal freedom. You can view the state’s full rankings, a descriptive analysis of its freedom situation, and policy recommendations to increase its freedom rankings at www.Freedominthe50states.org/overall/maine.

Maine has long been one of the freest states in the country personally and one of the least free economically. Between 2011 and 2014, the state declined even further on fiscal policy, which contributed to a relative decline in overall freedom.

Maine’s taxes have long been high, crushing taxpayers overall at 11.7 percent of adjusted personal income and earning the state rankings in the bottom 10 for both state and local taxes. Fortunately, government debt is low, at 14.7 percent of income, and government employment is down to 11.8 percent of private employment (from a peak of 12.9 percent in 2010).

Maine has been a consistently poor state on regulatory freedom since 2000, always staying in the bottom 10. It is one of the most regulated states for land use, and also has one of the most extreme renewable portfolio standards in the country. Different measures of occupational freedoms give a conflicting picture of that policy, but there is no doubt that Maine allows more scope of practice to second-line health professions than just about any other state. Freedom from abusive lawsuits is above average in Maine and has improved steadily over time.

Maine is a leading state for criminal justice. It has very low incarceration rates and a better-than-average civil asset forfeiture law. Maine is a progressive state with sound gun laws (including concealed carry without a permit), marijuana rights (recreational use became legal for adults over 21 years of age in 2017) and same-sex marriage (legalized by ballot initiative in 2012). It is, in brief, a very civil libertarian state.

To improve on its freedom ranking, the authors suggest several remedies, including: cutting spending on public welfare and housing and community development. Maine is one of the most free-spending states on public welfare in the country, and it also spends much more than average on housing and community development; cutting individual and corporate income taxes; rolling back exclusionary zoning ordinances that limit housing supply; selling off the state liquor stores and replacing the markup with a transparent ad valorem tax, as Washington has done. Maine will never be able to compete with New Hampshire prices anyway; perhaps it can compete on convenience.

Nationally, Florida, New Hampshire,, Indiana, Colorado and Nevada sit at the top of the rankings. New York again has the dishonor of being the least free state, preceded by Hawaii, California, New Jersey and Vermont.

The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank — dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

China TIF committee satisfied with proposed amended wording to document

by Mary Grow

China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee members decided on Jan. 14 they are satisfied with their proposed amended wording to China’s TIF document. They began deciding what amounts of money to recommend voters appropriate for each of the various TIF projects.

The Second Amendment (to the original 2015 TIF plan; the first was in 2017) includes three new categories for which TIF funds can be used, if voters approve the revised document. They are:

  • “Costs of funding environmental improvement projects developed by the Town,” with specific references to funding China Lake Association and China Region Lakes Alliance projects. With advice from resident Scott Pierz, president of both associations, the committee recommended appropriating $50,000 for this category for each of the next two years.
  • “Costs associated with the development of fisheries and wildlife or marine resources projects,” specifically contributing TIF money toward building a fishway at the China Lake outlet Dam, in East Vassalboro, to allow alewives to migrate into and out of China Lake. The Jan. 14 meeting ended before committee members discussed funding for this and the next new category.
  • “Costs related to broadband service development, expansion and improvement, including connecting to broadband service outside the District….”

The Jan. 14 draft TIF document is on the town website, china.govoffice.com. Go to Officials, Boards and Committees at the top of the page, scroll down to and open Tax Increment Financing Committee and the third document from the bottom of a long list is Second Amended TIF Draft Jan. 2021 China, followed by two related documents.

Specific proposed TIF projects are listed on pages 8 through 13 of the document. Committee members discussed the new ones and a few of the already-listed ones.

For example, the South China boat landing remains on the list, with a double focus: a boundary survey to find out exactly how much land the town owns, and erosion control measures. Committee members discussed potential costs and recommended $15,000 over the next two years.

Expenditures with a time limit are to be reviewed before the limit expires.

Committee members talked in late 2020 about possibly having Amendment Two ready for voters’ action at the May town business meeting. They made no commitment.

The next TIF Committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, and is expected to be a virtual meeting.

CHINA: Three solar projects get planners’ approval

by Mary Grow

At their Jan. 12 meeting, China Planning Board members worked on a proposed solar ordinance that will establish rules for evaluating future applications for solar developments.

The board has approved three solar projects so far, on Route 32 North (Vassalboro Road), off Route 32 South (Windsor Road) and on Route 3 (Belfast Road). They used standards in the land use ordinance that are not completely appropriate.

Board Vice-Chairman Toni Wall adapted a template prepared by Maine Audubon Society into a draft solar ordinance. Board members discussed a few changes, like eliminating references to land use districts and to a town engineer. China has minimal districting and no engineer on staff.

As of Jan 18, the draft ordinance is not available for public review. Board Chairman Randy Downer intends to prepare two on-line versions, one for board members (which they will be able to edit) and another for interested residents, who may make comments through the town office.

Planning board members do not expect to have a solar ordinance ready for voters’ approval or rejection at the May 18 annual town business meeting. They might ask for a vote in June with the school budget validation vote, or in November with local elections.

Downer said town officials plan a May 18 vote on the revised China Comprehensive Plan, drafted by the town’s Comprehensive Planning Committee with assistance from the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments. The final version is on the town website, china.govoffice.org, under Elections, one of the headings in the left-hand column.

Downer and board members welcomed Scott Rollins, the new District 4 representative. Rollins served on the board in the past; alternate member Jim Wilkens remembered the two overlapped briefly.

The next China Planning Board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, and is expected to be a virtual meeting.

Debate over Windsor youth sports rages

(Internet photo courtesy ussportscamps.com)

School board rules risks too high to allow athletes in school gym;
Proponents claim same safety measures as school sports can be used

by Steve Ball

The RSU #12 School Board has decided that Youth Sports for the 2020/2021 winter season is too risky to allow in the Windsor School gymnasium. At least, according to the latest RSU Board meeting, having Youth Sports in the Windsor School is too risky to allow until March when the decision will be reconsidered. The RSU Board has debated youth sports in multiple meetings since November 2020 and on each occasion the vote remained that with COVID-19 infections on the rise there will be no youth sports activities allowed in the Windsor School facilities. The reaction to this decision has been disappointing and frustrating for Windsor families, volunteers, and the Youth Sports Basketball Commissioner.

Windsor School (internet photo)

When interviewed last week Howie Tuttle, the RSU #12 Superintendent, said the decision was not necessarily permanent, but he indicated the board felt at this moment with rising COVID-19 infections allowing the Pre-K – 6th grade student players in the Windsor school facilities was too risky.

Under normal circumstances, during the winter months, Saturdays at the Windsor School gym are reserved for youth basketball. In Windsor there are nearly 150 children participating in the basketball and cheerleading programs according to Ryan Carver, the Youth Sports Basketball Commissioner and RSU board member. On Saturdays the gym is usually buzzing with youth players, youth cheerleaders, coaches, referees, and parents. It is this increased amount of personal contact that has RSU board members concerned.

On the other side of the discussion the parents, volunteers and Youth Sports Commissioner have appealed that to not have a sports outlet for the younger children is noticeably damaging to the participants psychologically, emotionally, physically, and academically. According to one volunteer, these children are suffering from the COVID isolation and limited outside activities as much, if not more than the older students.

Additionally, many, if not most of the children participants attend the Windsor School as students, so, to see the older students in the Windsor School allowed to play their sports while the younger students are being prohibited from using the facilities for their basketball season compounds the frustration and disappointment among families and children.

According to the RSU board’s meeting minutes the board members’ concerns to having youth in the school facilities ranges from having responsible and accountable people monitoring the conduct of students and adults following Maine Center for Disease Control guidance, to questioning the ability to conduct adequate contact tracing should someone become infected with the COVID virus, to adequate sanitation of the facilities after the Youth games.

According to Carver, he attempted to assure fellow board members that the extra effort made by the middle school sports programs before, during and after games will be also done for the youth sports activities. These assurances did not sway the skeptical board members. The decision remains that there will not be a youth sports basketball season for Windsor youth, at least until it is reconsidered in March 2021.

China town manager presents budget to selectmen

by Mary Grow

Town Manager Becky Hapgood presented selectmen with the first budget she has prepared since assuming her new position in July 2020, at a special joint meeting with the Budget Committee on Jan. 11.

The manager compiled figures presented by town department heads and the usual other groups, like town committees, insurance companies who insure town employees, organizations of municipalities to which China belongs and charitable and similar groups hoping town voters will support their work.

There are no figures yet from the school department, whose annual budget makes up around three-quarters of town expenditures, nor from Kennebec County.

Hapgood emphasized other uncertainties that will be debated as selectmen and Budget Committee members prepare a final recommended budget. For example, they might recommend additional road paving to make up for work not done last summer as the pandemic created financial uncertainty; recommend only the work previously scheduled for 2021; or propose further postponements if the financial situation is still unclear.

Voters will approve the 2021-22 budget at the 2021 annual town budget meeting. At this point the meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 18, by written ballot.

After the Jan. 11 meeting, Hapgood reported that the scheduled executive session to review her job performance was postponed, because one board member had technical difficulties and could not log in.

The next regular selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 (moved from the usual Monday evening because the town office will be closed Jan. 18 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday). Chairman Ronald Breton plans to have board members meet in person so they can more easily share budget numbers. Others participating or watching will still do so via Zoom.

Earned paid leave law goes into effect in Maine

by Charlotte Henderson

Maine’s new law, the Earned Paid Leave Law (MEPL), allows certain Maine workers to build up paid leave time. In businesses that employ more than 10 people, wage earners can now (effective New Year’s Day, 2021) accrue one hour of paid time off for every 40 hours worked, up to five paid days a year. While very small businesses and seasonal employees are exempt, many employees will benefit.

The bill, L.D. 369, An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave, was signed into law by Governor Janet Mills last May. At the time, she noted the law “makes it possible to take necessary time off without worrying about losing a day’s pay.”

Uniquely in the United States, Maine’s Earned Paid Leave law does not require the employee’s time off be “sick” leave, but can be taken for any reason by pre-agreement with the employer. Maine’s law is the first in the nation to allow this time off for any reason.

The bill’s sponsor, Rebecca Millett, a former state senator and current state representative for District #30 (Cape Elizabeth), says her original bill was intended to address only “sick” leave, but through the legislative committee process, it evolved to placing no restrictions on the use of the paid time. So, for instance, this bill will let an employee take a paid day to care for a sick relative or take a child to the beach.

There are some parameters, though. Unless there is an immediate necessity, such as illness, accident or other emergency, the employee must notify a supervisor and schedule paid time off ahead of time. Paid leave can accrue up to 40 hours in one year of employment, after the first 120 days, at the rate of pay in force when the leave starts. Further, the employee accepting earned leave will retain health and other workplace benefits already in place.

During the legislative process for MEPL, comments from public hearings affected some amendments and led to the current reading of the bill. There were over 80 individuals and representatives of organizations testifying, some in favor of the bill, some speaking forcefully against it. The reasons of those in support, who ranged from officers of large corporations to café owners, from farmers to single moms, were largely focused around family values such as parents being able to take care of sick children without losing pay or the employee being able to stay home if ill themselves. The reasoning of those against the bill was largely economic – the cost of paying someone who was not working, often while at the same time paying a fill-in at the job.

In the end, thanks to a cooperative bipartisan effort, the two sides reached a compromise which both supports working families and reduces the concerns of businessowners.

The Maine Department of Labor is responsible for implementing and enforcing the MEPL and reporting back to the Legislature. The law preempts any similar local laws in the state. LD 369 results in making paid leave available to 85 percent of Maine workers in businesses with over 10 employees. Maine is now one of 15 states nationwide that have mandatory paid leave with Maine’s being the only one not restricted to emergencies.

Selectmen act on preliminary review of revised marijuana ordinance

by Mary Grow

At a well-attended virtual meeting Jan. 7, Vassalboro selectmen did a preliminary review of a thoroughly revised town marijuana ordinance; followed up with the second of two major road projects; and discussed issues raised by Conservation Committee members.

They are asking for more comments on the draft Marijuana Ordinance, to be submitted by Friday, Jan. 15 (the town office is open from 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays) so board members can review them before their Jan. 21 meeting. Town Manager Mary Sabins offered her email address to receive comments, msabins@vassalboro.net.

The proposed ordinance is available on the Vassalboro website, www.vassalboro.net. In the right-hand column, the second paragraph under the heading “Selectmen’s Meeting” provides a place to click to read it.

The short 2017 “Ordinance Prohibiting Retail Marijuana Establishments” is also on the town website under “Ordinances/Policies” in the left-hand column. It will be repealed if voters approve the new ordinance.

Parts of the draft reviewed Jan. 7, prepared by town attorney Kristin Collins, are essential to bring Vassalboro regulations into conformity with state laws, Collins said. The laws and corresponding state regulations have changed significantly since 2017, and regulations continue to change.

The draft allows medical marijuana facilities, as state law requires. It bans retail marijuana stores. Other facilities, like growing operations, require town licenses. Licensing procedures are spelled out in detail.

Filling what planning board member Douglas Phillips considers a gap in current regulations, the draft ordinance specifies that when someone applies for a permit for a building with intent to lease spaces to grow marijuana inside it (like Leo Barnett’s existing and recently approved operations), both the building owner and each individual medical marijuana caregiver who leases space must obtain a town license.

The ordinance also requires building security, odor control and other measures recommended by the residents of the Sherwood Lane subdivision near which Barnett’s newest growing buildings have been approved.

Selectmen made no decisions on ordinance provisions pending review of comments received by Jan. 15.

Selectman Barbara Redmond asked whether the town could impose a moratorium on licenses while the ordinance is debated. Collins said a moratorium needs approval by town voters; the selectmen cannot create one.

Vassalboro’s annual town meeting is normally held in June. Sabins said a special town meeting would require a quorum of 125 registered voters.

Sherwood Lane residents also queried possible amendments to the town’s subdivision ordinance. Collins recommended the marijuana ordinance not try to include subdivision regulations. The subdivision ordinance is under the planning board’s jurisdiction.

Turning to the planned replacement of a large culvert on Gray Road, selectmen authorized Eric Calderwood, of Calderwood Engineering, of Richmond, to negotiate with Nitram Excavation and General Contractors, of Benton, lowest of five bidders on the project.

Nitram’s bid was $294,758, plus $100 per cubic yard for the crushed stone needed due to soft soil above bedrock. No other bid was under $300,000.

Board Chairman John Melrose reminded the audience the town has a $95,000 Department of Environmental Protection grant toward the cost. Sabins expects more than $27,000 to be left over from the Cross Hill Road culvert, money that could be reallocated to the Gray Road work.

Timing might be an issue. As with the Cross Hill Road project, instream work must be done between July 14 and Sept. 30, Calderwood said. If the precast culvert is not ordered soon, before town meeting voters can act on the request for money for the project, it might not be available for the summer of 2021.

Since the existing culvert is failing, Melrose said the alternative to replacement is closing Gray Road.

Four Conservation Commission members recommended three different projects.

Christopher French and Betsy Poulin are looking for environmental benefits and cost savings as part of pending transfer station rearrangements. A specific suggestion was to add composting. Instead of giving the town transfer station staff another job, they suggested contracting with ScrapDogs Community Compost, a Rockland-based firm that, for a fee, collects and composts food waste for individuals, businesses, organizations and municipalities.

ScrapDogs works primarily with coastal towns so far, but the owners want to expand to the Augusta-Waterville area, Poulin said. She suggested Vassalboro residents could leave food waste at the transfer station where ScrapDogs would pick it up.

Sabins said Vassalboro’s contract with the Maine Energy Recovery Company (MERC) requires the town provide a minimum amount of trash each year. Currently, the Hampden facility that reprocessed waste into useful forms is closed and trash is being landfilled, but she expects a new owner will take over later this spring.

If a local food waste program were successful, Vassalboro might fail to meet its contract and have to pay MERC’s successor for waste not sent, she said. She therefore recommended postponing action until the Hampden situation is resolved.

Holly Weidner wanted selectmen to act on a resolution proposing nation-wide fees on carbon emitters, an idea she said has been around since the 1980s. After an inconclusive discussion of a selectboard resolution or a town meeting resolution, to be sent to state or national representatives or both, no action was taken.

Steve Jones wanted to explore ways to restore the plunge pool that housed native brook trout before the Cross Hill Road culvert was replaced. The work apparently blocked or diverted the spring that fed the cold-water pool; the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife relocated half a dozen fish.

Selectmen discussed costs of getting permits and doing the work, with a license cost of $100,000 being mentioned. Selectman Robert Browne was appalled: “Six fish for $100,000? I’m not seeing the value there.”

Selectmen will explore if, as Jones suggested, an IF&W employee would do the permitting process for free and if the town crew could do the necessary work.

In other business Jan. 7:

  • Selectmen unanimously appointed Peggy Horner to the Conservation Commission and Paul Mitnik to the Trails Committee.
  • They reappointed Cathy Coyne registrar of voters, an annual action as the registrar’s term ends Dec. 31 each year.

Melrose announced three items for a future agenda: consideration of annual Spirit of America awards, a request from library trustees to discuss library ownership and a request from Road Commissioner Eugene Field to compare town and school employees’ wages and benefits.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.

Vassalboro planners hear intro to another solar development

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members heard an introduction to another proposed solar development, by entities who have not previously worked in the town, at the Jan. 5 planning board meeting.

New England Solar Garden of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was represented by Michael Redding. Sebago Technics, of South Portland, was represented by Owens McCullough. Sebago Technics is a civil engineering and land development consultant firm that works with developers like Solar Garden; Solar Garden specializes in community solar development.

Redding explained that the project will be on almost 30 acres of leased land. The land is on the west side of Cemetery Street, not far north of the Matthews Avenue intersection. Town tax records list Nicholas R. and Katie D. Jose as the land-owners; access will be by an existing gravel road that crosses Raymond Alley’s property.

The area is currently forested and appears to have been harvested in the past. It will be clearcut and stumps removed and will become meadowland, Redding said.

Fixed, south-facing solar panels will be placed in rows. Redding said the bottom edges of the panels will be about six feet off the ground and the upper edges about 12 feet above ground level.

The connection to Central Maine Power Company’s grid will be at the CMP power line, between the site and the street; there will be no need for extra poles on the street. A tree buffer at least 30 feet wide will line the south, west and north sides of the solar array, making it nearly invisible to passers-by.

Instead of the more usual chainlink fence, Solar Garden will put up an eight-foot- high knotwire fence, which has wider holes and is commonly used to keep deer out of orchards. This fence lets turtles, snakes, chipmunks, mice and other small animals through. Larger holes will be made to allow raccoons and foxes as well, so the solar array will not become “a resort for smaller mammals,” Redding said.

Local fire and law enforcement personnel will have the means to get through the gate in an emergency. Redding said his company will provide training for firefighters if asked.

The meadow will be planted with native plants, including some likely to attract native pollinators like bees and moths, and mowed no more than twice a year. This kind of habitat might attract such endangered species as cottontail rabbits, ribbon snakes and Blanding’s turtles, Redding said.

McCullough’s firm is responsible for obtaining permits. He expects the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s site location permit, for which he intends to file in a few weeks, will take several months. He also has checked with state agencies that deal with natural resources, historic preservation and other relevant issues.

McCullough and Redding said it appears the solar development will have minimal impact on the local environment. During construction there will be some noise as supports are pounded into the ground. When the project is operating, Redding anticipates little noise – perhaps “a low hum” from three transformers.

The project has no buildings, uses no water, generates no sewage or waste, has no outdoor lighting and will have little traffic. A nearby snowmobile trail will not be affected. Studies of similar projects elsewhere have shown no negative impact on nearby property values and sometimes a positive impact, McCullough said.

Final documents will include a decommissioning plan and a bond to cover decommissioning costs if necessary. Redding said the panels are guaranteed for 30 years and might well last twice that long. They will be monitored and any damage – for example, from a tree limb blown down by wind – repaired.

Planning board members made sure Redding and McCullough knew what they need to include in a full application, which is likely to be presented at the March planning board meeting (normally, Tuesday evening, March 2). Codes Officer Paul Mitnik said he will provide a list of abutters who need to be notified of the application.

Redding said if all permits are in hand by the beginning of July, construction could start in August and be finished in the fall.

In other business, board members briefly discussed proposed revisions to Vassalboro’s marijuana ordinance and arranged with Vassalboro Community School Technology Director David Trask to be participants in the Jan. 7 selectmen’s meeting. The marijuana ordinance is a selectmen’s responsibility.

Planning board member Douglas Phillips said he thinks board members need to start making site visits more often before they review applications, to confirm the accuracy of information submitted.

Mitnik said he is taking advantage of a seasonal lull in permit applications to update the list of subdivisions in Vassalboro. He estimates there are at least 70, some dating from the early 1970s. Under the town ordinance, any change in a subdivision, like dividing a lot or relocating a lot line, requires planning board approval.

The next regular planning board meeting would be Tuesday evening, Feb. 2. However, Mitnik said unless he receives an unexpected application, he sees no reason to meet.

Fairfield’s façade improvement program strengthens local economic resilience

Fairfield Town Manager Michelle Flewelling.

Fairfield’s Façade Improvement & Marketing Assistance Program (FIMAP), which launched in 2018, has continued to stimulate investment and enhance the visual aesthetics of the town’s districts and corridors. Entering its third year in operation, with similar programs previously utilizing Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), the FIMAP is supported by town Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues. The distribution of funding is spearheaded by the Fairfield Economic and Community Development Committee (FECDC) and has continued to increase in popularity.

The grant funding can be used towards a diverse array of project costs, including redevelopment initiatives and the renovation, restoration, and preservation of privately-owned business exteriors within Fairfield. FIMAP also provides marketing assistance to businesses via print media, radio advertising, social media platforms, website enhancements, and other options. Successful grantee applications can be reimbursed up to 50 percent of the cost of façade improvement and marketing projects.

“We are pleased to be in the midst of offering a third funding cycle for Fairfield businesses and property owners, and we are thrilled with the applications we have received in the past,” states Michelle Flewelling, Fairfield town manager. “Despite unprecedented difficulties faced by companies and property owners during the past year, local businesses have maintained an admirable commitment to the community, including moving forward on a focused range of restoration projects to launching e-commerce platforms that drive online sales. In turn, FIMAP projects are creating a strong foundation from which we can assist the local economy as we continue to invite growth and development.”

Fairfield has deployed seven grants totaling $67,591.50 since the program was originally conceived in late 2018. The FIMAP grants have stimulated more than $137,850 in direct investment into community businesses in less than three years.

With compact and asset rich commercial districts, Fairfield’s continued efforts of revitalization demonstrates a dedication to promoting growth, both from its current resident business owners and prospective entrepreneurs who are looking to expand operations. Recent recipients of grant funding have been Belanger’s Drive-In, IBEW 1253, Meridians Kitchen & Bar, Sunset Flowerland & Greenhouse, and Maine Avenue Auto Sales.

“The vitality of Fairfield’s downtown, commercial corridors, and residential neighborhoods has continued to catalyze positive growth and create tangible change,” states Garvan D. Donegan, Director of Planning, Innovation, and Economic Development at Central Maine Growth Council (CMGC). “Fairfield’s investments into the community and local businesses emphasizes the importance of stimulating local impact and creating conditions of economic resiliency.”

Eligible projects may apply for $3,000 to $25,000 in funding; FIMAP is funded by Fairfield Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues. Interested applicants may access a FIMAP application at http://wwwfairfieldme.com/town/pages/business-resources or by contacting CMGC at 207-680-7300 or gdonegan@centralmaine.org.

About Fairfield’s Economic and Community Development Advisory Committee:

The Economic and Community Development Advisory Committee is a “citizens” committee with open membership to all Fairfield residents, business owners, and educators who have a vested interest in community development. Meetings are open to the public, and the committee typically meets monthly at the Fairfield Community Center; go to Fairfield’s online calendar of events for a meeting schedule.

VASSALBORO: Approved marijuana growing locale sparks proposed ordinance changes

Selectmen to consider amendments to subdivision and marijuana ordinances

The agenda for the Thursday, Jan. 7, Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting includes discussion of two proposed ordinance amendments, sparked by a recent Planning Board approval of a marijuana growing facility adjacent to a subdivision on Sherwood Lane.

Board members, with legal advice, will consider amendments to Vassalboro’s subdivision and marijuana ordinances.

The selectmen’s virtual meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. The complete agenda and both ordinances as they now stand are on the town website.

Anyone interested in participating in the meeting should contact the town office in advance. Those who want to watch it on line should be able to via vcsvikings.org.