Canton selectman resigns

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CANTON — Selectmen accepted with regret the resignation of board Vice Chairman Donald Hutchins on Thursday night.

Hutchins gave no reason in his letter, which was read at the board meeting.

Selectmen decided a special election to fill the remainder of his term was unwarranted, because it ends in June.

In other business, the board again discussed a land issue raised last month by resident Ray Hamilton.

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At the Dec. 14 board meeting, Hamilton said he spent $3,150 to prove his assertion that the town did not own land on which it wanted to cut timber. Selectmen agreed that the town was wrong. Hamilton offered to accept a small piece of town land that adjoined his in lieu of reimbursement for his cost. He said the public was using the town land to access his property.

On Thursday, Selectman Lisa Cummings said she was opposed to swapping the land or paying Hamilton. She said the town had done its own research before it authorized cutting the timber and had not authorized Hamilton to conduct the survey.

Selectman Shane Gallant pointed out that the town’s research was in error and they would have been in trouble if they had improperly cut timber on land they did not own.

Administrative Assistant Harry Childs said he contacted the Maine Municipal Association and its attorney questioned the wisdom of the land swap. The attorney recommended voters pass one article to reimburse Hamilton and another to sell him the land.

The board made no decision on the recommendation Thursday.

A special town meeting to consider a new fire engine to replace Canton’s 37-year-old one was postponed Thursday, because selectmen decided to have the firetruck committee get more bids.

There has been controversy over whether the town should get a firetruck on a chassis custom built for that service or one on a lighter commercial frame.

Gallant, the fire chief, and other members of the Canton Volunteer Fire Department have advocated for the stronger, safer custom chassis because it lasts longer.

In another matter, Childs reported that the unpaid sewer bills amount to $17,000. Some go back to 2008. Maine law provides that for sewer bills more than a year old, the town cannot place a lien on the property, but would have to go to small claims court to collect.

New policy has been established to place liens quarterly on unpaid sewer bills. The liens mature in 18 months, so the town can foreclose on the property.

Many of the old bills are to the same property owners who have not paid current bills, Childs said. Since the town insists on the oldest bills being paid first, they can insist on payment of back debts if owners want to prevent foreclosure, he said.

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