Vassalboro select board to hold two public hearings

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro select board members plan February and March public hearings on two town ordinances they intend to finish revising in time for voter action at the June 3 town meeting.

Amendments to the Solid Waste Ordinance are nearly final (see the Jan. 11 issue of The Town Line, p. 3, and the Jan. 25 issue, pp. 2-3). The hearing on this ordinance is scheduled for Thursday evening, Feb. 22.

Board members are still working on the town’s Marijuana Business Ordinance. They intend to have a revised version ready for a hearing on Thursday, March 7.

Town attorney Kristin Collins attended the board’s Jan. 25 meeting and confirmed what chairman Chris French believes about small medical marijuana growing operations in town: since the state authorizes them, the town cannot ban them (see the Jan. 18 issue of The Town Line, p. 3).

However, Collins said, the town can regulate such operations, including requiring licenses and conformity with local licensing rules.

Discussion of amending the marijuana ordinance was followed by discussion of amending the town’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Ordinance, to expand allowable uses for TIF funds. This amendment, too, would need voter approval, Collins said, and approval by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Board members then considered amending yet another local ordinance, the one setting a high quorum requirement for any special town meeting. Town Manager Aaron Miller considers that requiring 125 voters be present to start a special meeting effectively bans such meetings. No decision was made.

The Jan. 25 meeting included a public hearing on renewing marijuana business licenses for five “grandfathered” commercial growing operations, those in business before the 2017 ordinance was approved. Four are on Old Meadows Road; the building housing one on Cushnoc Road is being rebuilt after a fire in the fall of 2022, but select board members did not consider the business had been discontinued.

As codes officer Jason Lorrain recommended, board members renewed the licenses for 2024. One renewal is conditional on installation of a security system, a job Lorrain said is in process.

Chris Mitchell, newly chosen executive director of Delta Ambulance after months as acting executive director, explained again that because of rising costs and stable or declining revenues, Delta needs to join Maine’s other ambulance services in charging an annual fee to towns whose residents it serves.

This year, Delta’s 13 member towns, including Vassalboro, paid $15 per resident, Michell said. For the 2024-25 fiscal year, the request is $25 per head; and it will be higher again in 2025-26.

French asked what happens if some towns don’t pay. Their residents don’t get ambulance service from Delta, Mitchell replied.

He told French losing supporting towns would not raise the 2024-25 rate; the $25 is firm for the year.

The majority of Delta’s board of directors represents area hospitals. French recommended more input from municipalities; Mitchell agreed, and said revamping board membership was a project he hadn’t had time to explore yet.

From the audience, Vassalboro rescue head Dan Mayotte and fire chief Walker Thompson told French they have no problems or concerns about Delta’s service.

Returning to previously-discussed transfer station plans, select board members unanimously approved a contract to pay Senders science engineering and construction, of Camden, $7,600 for mapping Vassalboro’s site; redesigning the facility and assisting with seeking grant funding; and preparing a final plan and obtaining state and local permits.

Miller said company head Jeff Senders’ Jan. 23 meeting with the Transfer Station Task Force had been “productive” and led to a consensus to move ahead.

Select board members briefly discussed two other money matters, making no decision on either.

Resident John Melrose, speaking for the town’s trails committee, asked for funding to improve the South Loop Trail, which he said runs between the public works garage parking lot and the soccer field. Committee members’ main concerns are avoiding bridges and “getting out of the water and the mud,” Melrose said.

He plans to present options with cost estimates at a future select board meeting.

Brian Lajoie, for the public works department, asked approval to use left-over 2023-24 paving money this spring to pave some of Vassalboro’s few remaining gravel roads. Winter gravel road maintenance is challenging, he said.

By that point in the meeting, board member Frederick “Rick” Denico, Jr., had left. French preferred saving the left-over funds; board member Michael Poulin favored Lajoie’s request; a decision was therefore postponed until Denico can break the tie.

French and Poulin accepted the board’s new Remote Participation in Public Proceedings Policy (currently available on the website,, under the agenda for the Jan. 25 select board meeting; as of Jan. 29, not added under Documents: Ordinances and Policies).

The next regular Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Feb. 8.


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