Otisfield selectmen reject conservation subcommittee proposal

OTISFIELD — Conservation Commission Chairman Jeff Stern met with the Board of Selectmen Thursday night to ask permission to form a study group on how to resolve the ongoing drainage problems on Cobb Hill Road affecting the water quality of nearby Thompson Lake.

Leslie H. Dixon/Sun Journal

Otisfield Conservation Committee Chairman Jeff Stearn took notes Thursday night as selectmen told him his idea to form a study committee headed by the Conservation Committee would not be acceptable under the town's charter.

The group intended to come back to selectmen with recommendations.

But that request was shut down by selectmen, who said only Road Commissioner Richard Bean has the authority to say what happens on Otisfield roads.

“I wouldn't want it to be a powerless effort,” Selectman Rick Micklon said.

The problem, said selectmen, is that the Conservation Commission is not chartered to create its own subcommittee to make recommendations on road drainage, and even if it were, the Board of Selectmen does not have the authority to tell Bean — an elected official — what to do.

Additionally, selectmen said they were concerned with using town money on private property to help reduce the erosion, particularly on the upper part of the road.

A 2010 $62,000 grant program through the Thompson Lake Environmental Association to help control erosion from sites, including Cobb Hill Road, into the lake was considered successful, reducing an estimated 52 tons of soil from entering the lake at various sites.

Stern agreed that drainage problems on Cobb Hill Road have improved since several culverts were installed on the road, but with three “100-year storms” occurring within several months, he said he believes the situation is not under control. A 100-year flood is a flood event that has a one percent probability of occurring in any given year.

“Progress is being made,” Selectman Len Adler said. “We've gone from one-half a dozen roads to one road washing out.”


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 's picture

Limited vision and conflict of interest....

I believe that the selectman have some say over the town budget, and if repeatedly dumping dump truck loads of gravel to fill in the washout is what is considered acceptable over the expertise of someone who has spent the past 37 years of his life doing this type of work is considered "controversial" then I say we need to take a much closer look at this. Ivory Hill Rd. is not "private property" and repeated washout affects the people who live up there and also the land owners down near and on the lake (who by the way are tax payers). The tax payers should not be held responsible because one selectman is a longtime friend of the road commissioner and another is indirectly related due to marriage. Friends of Otisfield was a group of community members who were concerned about the transparency and efficiency of our town government. Since they raised some key issues the relationship between Board of Selectman and the community have gotten better, but don't let us get sidetracked and return to where we have come. If the Otisfield Conservation Commission is not the place to initiate a group to study this then who is? The selectman - who appear reluctant to touch the issue after having been made aware of the problem the past few years? Perhaps Friends of Otisfield needs to be resurrected...


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