Vassalboro selectmen hold public hearing on mass gathering

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen spent the first half of their short Sept. 30 meeting hosting two public hearings. The first was to seek comment on the new Mass Gathering Ordinance that will be on the Nov. 2 local ballot. The second was the annual hearing on permits for junkyard/auto graveyard permits and auto hobbyist permits.

The 12-page Town of Vassalboro Mass Gathering Ordinance is on the town website, www.vassalboro.net, in the center column, under the heading “Notice of Public Hearing.” Selectmen wrote the ordinance in preparation for a planned country music festival in town next July.

The ordinance defines a mass gathering as “an outdoor gathering intended to attract, or, in fact, attracting five hundred (500) or more persons assembled together, for any purpose.” It goes on to exempt gatherings in established or permanent places of assembly, which selectmen have said include the Olde Mill, St. Bridget’s Center and Natanis Golf Course, among others.

The purpose of the ordinance is to promote public health, safety and welfare. The theory behind the exemptions is that permanent places are adequate to hold gatherings safely and without disturbance or disruption.

Resident William “Billy” Pullen asked selectmen how they came up with the 500-person figure. He pointed out that his Vassalboro Days car show at the town office had probably attracted that many people. And, he asked, who keeps count?

Selectman Barbara Redmond said after reviewing other towns’ ordinances, 500 seemed a reasonable, middling number. The ordinance envisions promoters of gatherings like the country music festival keeping count through ticket sales.

Board Chairman Robert Browne assured Pullen the ordinance would not affect his annual car show.

During the second public hearing, Codes Officer Paul Mitnik said he and his replacement-in-training, Ryan Page, had inspected the seven graveyards/junkyards and three hobbyists’ properties. Mitnik recommended, and selectmen accepted, six approvals; two approvals with conditions; and two denials.

Denied were:

  • Dale Clement, at 471 Taber Hill Road, because Mitnik said the business appeared to be closed. He awaits a reply to a 30-day notice he sent.
  • Hobbyist Keith Lemieux at 79 Priest Hill Road, because Mitnik saw no evidence his old cars were being restored or otherwise worked on, as the law requires. Mitnik said he sent Lemieux a notice, too.

Conditional approvals were for:

  • Olin Charette, 1499 Riverside Drive, who needs to maintain his screening and keep a second gate free; and
  • Hobbyist James Jurdak, 7 Baker Road, who needs screening.

Annual permits were approved for James Cogley (Ron’s Parts), 510 Main Street; Bill Pullen (Freddie’s Service Center), 163 South Stanley Hill Road; Stanley Garnett (Garnett Motors), 1616 N. Belfast Avenue; Voit Ritch (Autowerkes), Route 3; Roger Pomerleau (RAP), 1702 Riverside Drive; and hobbyist Robert Dore, 919 Church Hill Road.

The approved permits are all renewals.

Selectmen spent the rest of the meeting with routine business, including reviewing reports from town departments and approving bills for payment.

Town Manager Mary Sabins said that since the recently-hired bookkeeper had resigned, the remaining town office staff members have been extremely busy. Retired bookkeeper Jean Poulin had been coming back to help as her time permitted, Sabins said.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14.

 
 

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