China selectmen put warrant in final form

by Mary Grow

China selectmen put a 31-article warrant for the April 6 town business meeting in final form at their Feb. 19 meeting, though Town Manager Dennis Heath made a couple of minor wording changes after the meeting.

The town meeting opens at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 6, at China Middle School. At 8:50 a.m. Selectman Irene Belanger is scheduled to make the annual presentation of Spirit of America awards recognizing volunteers in town.

Most of the questions ask voters to approve appropriations for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2019, and ends June 30, 2020. The articles contain summaries; voters seeking details are referred to a “budget book” about 15 pages long that will be part of the 2017 town report.

For example, the warrant asks voters to approve more than $686,000 for the administration and administration other accounts. The budget book lists the 42 separate items in the two accounts and the revenues, including taxation, to be used to fund them.

The town report is usually available at least a week before town meeting.

Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood said the quorum requirement to open the meeting is 119 registered voters. She and Heath have joked about expecting all 1,241 residents who voted last November not to repeal the town’s Quorum Ordinance to show up at the meeting.

Before approving the warrant selectmen discussed yet again the volunteer fire departments’ use of stipends to help defray expenses for members who respond to calls. Selectmen recommends less money for stipends than the departments requested; the budget committee recommends voters grant the full amount.

In other business Feb. 19, selectmen approved a consent agreement with Ralph and Linda Howe, doing business as Bio Renewable Fuels at 168 Dirigo Road. The lengthy agreement essentially allows the Howes to continue to operate the business with a state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit, but not to expand it without local planning board approval.

The Howes had a DEP permit for the operation when it was in Fairfield, and Heath said a renewal is pending. They also obtained local permits for two new structures and one expansion, he said.

Under the agreement, a DEP odor control plan is to be implemented and a fence built to screen part of the property. The Howes are to pay $1,500 to China to help defray legal costs, which Heath said added up to a little over $11,800 this fiscal year and last. The agreement was approved on a 3-0-1 vote, with Board Chairman Robert MacFarland abstaining because he considers the business inappropriate for a residential area. Heath said DEP staff checked some wells in the area last year and found “no cause for concern.”

Hapgood reported there are two vacancies on the planning board, the alternate seat that can be filled by a resident from any part of town and the District 3 (southeastern China) seat from which Milton Dudley recently resigned. Interested residents should apply at the town office.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, March 4, according to the calendar on the town website.


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