Vassalboro selectmen review mass gathering ordinance

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen made decisions on two of the three major items on their July 14 agenda.

They spent three-quarters of an hour on the third, reviewing a draft Mass Gathering Ordinance, and decided they should continue working on it at their next meeting.

The ordinance is intended to make sure any such event is safe. It covers subjects like limits on attendance, provision of drinking water and toilet facilities, traffic management, parking and security.

Vassalboro’s draft is modeled on the Town of Readfield’s. It specifically exempts from the definitions of “mass gathering” and “mass gathering area” existing “established and permitted” facilities like athletic fields, auditoriums and “similar permanent places of assembly” that are equipped to handle crowds. Selectmen concluded it would not apply to places like Natanis Golf Course, St. Bridget’s Center or the old mill, in North Vassalboro.

Writing an ordinance was inspired by notice of a proposed country music concert in Vassalboro on July 20, 2022. Selectmen hope to present the draft to voters as a local ballot question on Nov. 2.

The second pending item July 14 was setting fees for medical marijuana establishments, as provided under the Marijuana Business Ordinance voters approved at the town meeting in June.

After discussing a range of figures, selectmen unanimously approved a compromise: a $500 annual license fee for each business, and if more than one business shares a building, the same $500 fee for the building owner and for each separate business owner.

Board members intend to monitor the amount of town employees’ time needed to administer the ordinance. They could change the fee, either up or down, depending on what they learn. They expect the town manager and the codes officer to be the people most involved.

Codes Officer Paul Mitnik presented the third issue for the July 14 meeting, continued land use violations at the former church building at 14 Priest Hill Road, in North Vassalboro.

The deadline for the owner to clean up the lot was July 15, Mitnik said. If he failed to comply, town officials could take enforcement measures through the courts. They could be authorized to clean up the property and bill the owner; or, if the building is deemed hazardous, to have the building demolished and the property cleaned up, and to bill the owner.

Selectmen voted unanimously to authorize Mitnik to proceed with enforcement as he deems necessary.

In other business July 14, selectmen:

Heard Fire Chief Walker Thompson’s report on the broken-down fire truck, including the potential costs of repairs (variable, depending on whether a broken gear on the low-pressure oil pump damaged the engine) and the department’s ability to get along without the truck for a while.
Heard the good news that Vassalboro’s new fire truck might arrive by the end of the month, if back-ordered parts come in.
Planned next steps toward installing a new compactor at the transfer station, without undue optimism about the availability of needed parts there, either.
Confirmed their previously unofficial plan to authorize repaving the parking lots at the town office and the North Vassalboro fire station and adjacent food pantry.
Appointed Helen Devoe a member of the Conservation Commission.
Appointed Savannah Clark, currently the intern assisting with compiling cemetery records, a member of the Cemetery Committee.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12.


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