Selectmen give thumbs down to request for food sovereignty ordinance

by Mary Grow

Three of the residents who attended the Vassalboro selectmen’s Feb. 7 meeting brought specific requests; others came to catch up with local business.

Selectmen unanimously approved two requests, with qualifications, and refused to act on one.

Holly Weidner, a member of the informal East Vassalboro Village Area Association, asked that the speed limit on South Stanley Hill Road be reduced from 30 to 25 miles an hour, due to the number of houses, some with blind driveways, and the sharp curve before the intersection with Main Street.

Selectmen said the first step would be for the state Department of Transportation (MDOT) to review the road and make a recommendation to local officials. They voted to ask MDOT to review the whole East Vassalboro area, including the east end of Bog Road, with special attention to South Stanley Hill Road.

Weidner and Janet Babb asked to use the town office meeting room for a weekly Drums Alive class for six weeks. Drums Alive, they explained, is a fitness program for people of all ages.

Town Manager Mary Sabins said other groups using the room pay $10 per meeting toward costs of heat, lights and cleaning. Weidner and Babb were agreeable.

Selectmen’s concern was whether drumming and music would interfere with discussions at the counter in the outer office. They approved the request with the condition that office services not be impacted.

Dylan Dillaway, of 47 Daisies Farm on Webber Pond Road, asked selectmen to put on the June town meeting warrant a Food Sovereignty Ordinance. Other Maine towns have implemented such ordinances, authorized by state law in 2017. They allow the municipality, instead of state and/or federal governments, to regulate production, processing and sale of local food products.

Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus expressed concern about food safety. Board member John Melrose asked who among Vassalboro residents would benefit if voters approved an ordinance.

Dillaway said he would not – his operation has all the state certificates it requires.

Selectmen unanimously declined to act on Dillaway’s request. Sabins said Dillaway’s next step to get an ordinance onto the town meeting warrant is to get 211 voters’ signatures on a petition to selectmen.

In other business, selectmen unanimously authorized Sabins to sign an agreement with Central Maine Power Company to convert Vassalboro’s streetlights to LED (Light-emitting Diode) lights. Titus has not yet completed his survey of existing streetlights and areas where new lights might be needed; but signing the agreement will let CMP start ordering the new lights and scheduling the change-over.

Sabins said Vassalboro has a 2007 streetlight policy, posted on the town website (under Ordinances/Policies). It defines procedures for residents to request new lights and sets criteria for a no-longer-existent Safety Committee to evaluate requests and recommend selectmen approve or deny them.

Board members approved the revised draft of a request for bids to transport solid waste for disposal, omitting reference to recyclables.

Weidner asked what recyclables residents are now supposed to separate. Titus told her only cardboard, required by local ordinance, because when the Hampden Fiberight (or Coastal Resources) facility opens, its recycling operation will be more complete and efficient than anything the town could do at a reasonable cost. (See this article from the Jan. 31 issue of The Town Line.)

Before the meeting adjourned, Sabins gave selectmen a first draft of the 2019-2020 budget to review before their Feb. 12 budget workshop. The next regular selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Feb. 21.


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