Selectmen create 13-item local ballot for November election

by Mary Grow

At their Sept. 19 meeting, China selectmen created a 13-item ballot for local voters Nov. 8.

Voting – local, state and national – will be from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 8 in the portable classroom behind the town office on Lakeview Drive.

After election of a town meeting moderator for the day, the local ballot includes elections; three proposed ordinance amendments; one proposed land acquisition by purchase and another by gift; a proposed sale to the South China Public Library; two minor proposed expenditures; and three proposed rearrangements of town money.

Signed nomination papers for local office must be returned to the town office by 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24.  A list of candidates will be available the following week.

A public hearing on the rest of the ballot questions is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17.  It will be held at China Middle School if the multi-purpose room is available.

The China Budget Committee will meet Thursday, Sept. 22, to make recommendations on proposed spending and fund transfers.

The third and fourth articles on the ballot ask voters to approve amendments to China’s Solid Waste Flow Control Ordinance and Solid Waste Disposal Ordinance.  The major Solid Waste Disposal Ordinance change is in the transfer station hours: if voters approve the amended ordinance, the transfer station will be open Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  The goal is to eliminate the long stretch between Saturday and Wednesday that now occurs when Monday is a holiday.

Selectmen decided the amended ordinance, if approved, would become effective Nov. 25, to give time to inform local residents that Wednesday is no longer a transfer station day.

Changes to the Flow Control Ordinance, according to Transfer Station Committee Chairman Frank Soares, are intended to make the ordinances conform to China’s actual practices.

The Land Use Ordinance changes are extensive; the draft revised ordinance runs 75 pages, plus a separate section on definitions.  Planning board members made two main points as they worked on proposed changes: the new ordinance conforms to revised state standards, and in general it is more lenient, especially with regard to shoreland use, than the current ordinance.

Major areas that would change if voters approve include standards for enlarging non-conforming buildings (those that do not meet current requirements) within 100 feet of a water body; rules for converting from seasonal to year-round use, which would become state rules, current and future; rules governing signs; and timber harvesting regulations.

A summary of the changes, prepared by Codes Officer Paul Mitnik, is on the town web site, under the heading “Election Information.”

The land selectmen recommend buying is a 6.2 acre lot adjoining the town office lot.  Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said it is valued at $21,000; Article 6 asks voters to appropriate $12,000 for it, an agreed price.      Four selectmen voted to put the question on the ballot, with Ronald Breton opposed.  Board Chairman Robert MacFarland saw no need to buy the lot, but thought voters should decide.  Joann Austin sees the additional land as providing flexibility for future town needs.

The vote to recommend voters accept almost 40 acres off Lakeview Drive offered by Wachusetts Properties was unanimous.  The area is currently an undeveloped subdivision, on the east side of the road; resident Wayne Chadwick said most of it is wetland.  Selectmen see it as a potential site for a new China Village fire station, or as land they can sell in the future.

Art. 8 asks voters to put the $18,000 a year the Town of Palermo will contribute for use of China’s transfer station into a reserve fund for transfer station equipment replacement and similar purposes.

The first of two fund requests is for $3,800 “to conduct a community needs assessment relating to the understanding of the challenges facing older residents as they age in China.”   The project is a follow-up to the demographic survey done this summer for $500.

The second, in Art. 10, asks voters to appropriate an additional $5,000 for police services.  L’Heureux said the request is a response to what seems to be an increase in vandalism and other minor but annoying offenses in town.

Article 11 proposes transferring $100,000 from the town’s unassigned fund balance, once known as surplus, to the capital and equipment reserve account where it can be used for major purchases in an emergency, like a truck breaking down or, L’Heureux suggested, a roof collapsing.  The manager said the change would not affect China’s credit rating.

The proposed gift to the South China Library is the portable classroom the town bought from the school department this summer.  The recipients would be expected to reimburse the town for the $1 the building cost and moving expenses.

There was disagreement over whether the idea originated with library trustees or selectmen, but agreement that library officials might want to relocate the building to their newly-acquired South China property.

The draft article was amended to give library officials 60 days after the vote to accept the building, assuming the article passes.  Austin voted against putting the item on the ballot, having expressed opposition to the time limit and suggested other potential uses for the building.

The final article, recommended by the Tax Increment Financing Committee, asks voters to appropriate $50,000 from the TIF account for repair and maintenance of Four Seasons Club trails along the Central Maine Power Company line in China.  During TIF Committee discussions, club president Soares said the trails are all-season and all-purpose.

The China Budget Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m., Thursday Sept. 22, to make recommendations on proposed spending and fund transfers


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