Vassalboro select board approves three-item local ballot

by Mary Grow

The two Vassalboro select board members present at the Sept. 15 meeting (board chairman Barbara Redmond was on vacation) unanimously approved a three-item local ballot to be presented to town voters at the polls on Nov. 8.

The first item is election of a moderator, traditionally done by those present as the polls open at 8 a.m. in the town office building.

The second item is approval or rejection of a new “Moratorium Ordinance on Commercial Solar Arrays.”

The third item is election of a member from Vassalboro of the Kennebec Water District Board of Trustees. Frank Richards is Vassalboro’s current representative, and according to the KWD website the board’s vice-chairman. Town Clerk Cathy Coyne said in an email that his name will be on the ballot for re-election.

The two-page moratorium ordinance applies only to commercial solar developments, defined as “a solar energy collection structure of any size that is distributed to the electric power grid and not credited to one or more designated end users.”

The ordinance says if voters approve the moratorium, it will be in effect for 180 days, unless the select board decides on a shorter or longer term, to give select board and planning board members time to add amendments to current local ordinances “to protect the public from health and safety risks.”

While the moratorium, if approved, is in effect, no town official is allowed to “accept, process, approve, deny, or in any other way act upon” an application for any aspect of a commercial solar installation.

A public hearing on the proposed moratorium is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 29, in the town office meeting room, at the beginning of the next select board meeting. Select board members intend to meet with the planning board at that board’s Oct. 4 meeting.

Select board members and road foreman Eugene Field agreed on two other matters at the Sept. 15 meeting.

Board members approved Field’s request to spend $100,500 for a lightly used 2012 Case International tractor, with a front bucket, and a 16-foot-boom brushhog roadside mower to attach to the side of the tractor.

At the June 6 part of Vassalboro’s 2022 annual town meeting, voters appropriated $106,000 for the purchase, which will eliminate the need to rent roadside mowing equipment. Field plans to use the tractor generously in 2023 to catch up on clearing town roadsides.

He said he intends to store it in the salt shed for now, but when the 2023 public works budget is prepared, he will probably ask for additional equipment storage space.

Town Manager Mary Sabins said that as the Maine Department of Transportation plans to rebuild sidewalks in North Vassalboro, engineer Douglas Coombs asked whether town officials want to replace the current granite curbing with granite again, or with concrete slipform.

Concrete slipform, or poured concrete, is less expensive, but, Sabins said, Coombs told her it requires occasional maintenance treatments.

After discussion, with Field participating, the two select board members voted to ask the highway department to install new granite curbing. They cited the maintenance as an argument against concrete. Field added that granite is more durable.

In other action, board members approved a proclamation recognizing the week of Sept. 17 through Sept 23 as Constitution Week.

They granted four permits to serve liquor at events at St. Bridget’s Center, in North Vassalboro.

Payments approved included $150 to the Town of China, to allow Vassalboro residents to bring confidential papers to the annual shredding event at the China Public Works building on Alder Park Road, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15.

Sabins said as a past president of the Maine Municipal Association, she has been invited to MMA’s Oct. 5 and 6 annual meeting, at the association’s expense. Select board members appointed her a voting delegate.

The next regular Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 29, in the town office meeting room.

Vassalboro select board to meet in executive session

by Mary Grow

The Vassalboro Select Board will meet in Executive Session on Monday, September 26, at 5 p.m., at the Town Office to make a plan to replace the town manager who has expressed her intention to retire effective January 2, 2023. The board will talk with two executive search firms about services they can offer the select board. This meeting will be closed to the public.

 
 

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