CHINA NEWS: Three local issues on town June ballot

by Mary Grow

China voters will have a three-issue town ballot on June 13, in addition to ratifying or rejecting the Regional School Unit #18 budget for 2017-18 and voting on state questions. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the former portable classroom behind the town office on Lakeview Drive. Voters in the five RSU 18 towns will approve next year’s school budget at the annual district budget meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, May 18, at Messalonskee High School in Oakland.

Public hearings on China’s three local questions are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 15, before that evening’s selectmen’s meeting.

On June 13, voters will decide by written ballot whether to:

  • Approve an “Ordinance Prohibiting Retail Marijuana Establishments and Retail Marijuana Social Clubs in the Town of China”;
  • Appropriate up to $25,000 from the Unrestricted/Unassigned Fund Balance (surplus) to buy and install a septic system and well for the portable classroom, referred to in this article as the Emergency Preparedness Shelter; and
  • Authorize selectmen to buy a two-acre lot on Alder Park Road adjoining land already town-owned and appropriate $12,000 from surplus for the purchase.

The four budget committee members attending an April 26 meeting unanimously supported both proposed expenditures.

The plan for the well and septic system includes two further steps if voters approve the $25,000: installing a bathroom in the building and connecting the well to the town office. Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux recommends funding the bathroom and town office connection from town office maintenance money. The current town office well provides minimally drinkable water, because it is affected by the pile of salted sand that stood uncovered behind the town office for many years.

The lot proposed for purchase is east of the lot on the corner of Alder Park Road and Lakeview Drive that the town bought several years ago, south of the lot on which the town office complex stands and west of part of the 6.2 acre lot voters approved buying in November 2016. L’Heureux said he is working to get an accurate map and clear title on the November purchase.

At an April 27 special selectboard meeting, selectmen unanimously authorized L’Heureux to sign an agreement on the Alder Park Road lot conditional on voter approval of money to buy it.

The marijuana ordinance was again a subject of debate at the April 27 selectmen’s meeting. It was put on the June 13 warrant without a selectmen’s recommendation to voters and with board member Joann Austin voting against presenting it.

Austin called putting the question on the ballot a mistake. She believes that retail marijuana establishments open new possibilities for local businesspeople, and that keeping marijuana illegal only increases its attractiveness to young people.

Other board members fear marijuana businesses would be dominated by large out-of-state operations with the profits going out of state. They pointed out that approving the ordinance would neither affect medical marijuana operations nor forbid individuals to grow small amounts for personal use.

A copy of the proposed ordinance is on the China town website under Election Information.

In other business April 27, Board Chairman Neil Farrington announced the recent state award to China’s transfer station staff, which will be more fully publicized, and announced that May 7 through 13 is Maine Composting Week.

Board members talked again about plans for stipends for China’s emergency services volunteers. Voters at the March town meeting approved up to $40,000 for the purpose, with a distribution plan to be worked out by the services and town officials. Federal regulations defining when a person is an independent contractor versus an employee are complicating discussions.

Since the April meetings, L’Heureux learned that the property for sale at the north end of China Lake, mentioned by Tax Increment Financing Committee member Dale Worster at the April 24 TIF Committee meeting (see The Town Line, April 27, p. 3), is the house and lot immediately west of Church Park. L’Heureux has informed TIF Committee members.


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