China select board holds two public hearings on two draft ordinances

by Mary Grow

Note: this report does not cover the Feb. 13 select board public hearing on the draft Board of Appeals ordinance (Chapter 9 of China’s Land Use Ordinance), to which select board members invited members of the board of appeals and the planning board. The same topic is the main agenda item for the Feb. 14 planning board meeting, to which the planning board has invited select board and board of appeals members. A report is planned for the Feb. 23 issue of The Town Line.

China select board members started their Feb. 13 meeting with more than an hour of consecutive public hearings on two draft ordinances.

The first hearing, on the amended board of appeals ordinance that has been previously discussed at select board and planning board meetings (see the Jan. 12, Jan. 19 and Feb. 2 issues of The Town Line) lasted a full hour. No action was planned or taken; the topic was to be re-discussed at the Feb. 14 planning board meeting.

The second, shorter hearing was on a draft solid waste ordinance that Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood explained was a melding of two existing ordinances, the Solid Waste Disposal Ordinance and the Solid Waste Flow Control Ordinance. Revisions included updates and elimination of duplicate language.

Residents Toni Wall and James Wilkens suggested minor changes. If select board members approve a final draft, the ordinance will be submitted to voters at the annual town business meeting in June.

The major decision at the select board meeting that followed the hearings was to deny a request to seek to increase the 25-mile-an-hour speed limit on Cross Road, which runs from Lakeview Drive to Hanson Road.

Hapgood said to her knowledge, the limit had been in place since the road was a narrow, curvy, hilly dirt road; it is now paved, and curves and hills have been modified, she said.

Maine’s Department of Transportation (MDOT) sets speed limits, the manager said. Select board members could ask the department to study the road and recommend an appropriate limit. She did not know whether local officials had any say on what change, if any, to make.

Audience members agreed that few drivers obey the speed limit on Cross Road, or anywhere else. Speakers disagreed over whether the average driver would continue at his or her usual pace if the limit were raised, or if a higher limit would increase speeding.

Select board member Blane Casey called 25 “a little slow.” Brent Chesley admitted he finds 35 or 40 a “comfortable” speed when he drives Cross Road; but, he said, residents’ opinions were his main concern.

A Cross Road resident in the audience said she likes the road slow; it is safer for children, wildlife and pedestrians.

A Hanson Road resident was willing to support a 35-mile-an-hour limit like the one on Hanson Road. The two roads are similar, she said; and she researched MDOT records and found no reports of accidents on Cross Road.

Hapgood shared two emailed comments from Cross Road residents opposing an increase. One said her family moved to the road seeking a safe place for children, pets and pedestrians; she called it “a freaking drag strip,” to the delight of those at the meeting.

The writer of a more detailed email pointed out that Cross Road has no shoulders, no lines and no lights; that it serves a residential area with many pedestrians; that some of the driveways have very short sight distances; and that slow-moving tractors and other farm equipment use Cross Road.

Both emails mentioned the lack of policing to enforce the speed limit.

Casey commented as testimony ended that he had heard “a lot of opposition to doing anything with” the speed limit. The decision to reject the requested increase was unanimous.

Other Feb. 13 business included:

  • A reminder that the China town office will be closed Monday, Feb. 20, for the Presidents’ Day holiday.
  • A reminder that the second half payment of 2022-23 local taxes is due at the town office by the close of business Friday, March 31.
  • Notice that China will host a regional household hazardous waste collection day at the transfer station on Saturday, April 15.
  • Approval of quitclaim deeds to return foreclosed properties to two people who paid back taxes, and acceptance of a third payment that was two days past deadline. Hapgood said a quitclaim deed for that property would be prepared for the next meeting.

As the time reached 8:15 p.m., board chairman Wayne Chadwick proposed postponing the initial review of the 2023-24 budget that was next on the agenda. After discussion of board members’ schedules, there was agreement to begin the Feb. 27 select board meeting at 5 p.m., rather than the usual 6:30, with the budget again a topic.


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