MEXICO — The Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 Tuesday evening to discuss what the official duties of the town’s Planning Board should be at their next board meeting.
The issue was brought to light after fire Chief Gary Wentzell asked Selectman Reggie Arsenault, who is also a Planning Board member, whether or not the Planning Board had discussed the possibility of amending the town’s referendum town meeting ordinance to split the Public Safety budget into separate Police and Fire Department budgets.
Arsenault said that he and the other Planning Board members agreed that it “wasn’t our job to do that.”
“We felt it was up to the selectmen and the town manager to make a decision with something like that,” Arsenault said.
Selectman Albert Aniel said he felt that the Planning Board had been asked to do more than normal, and that he wanted to see the Planning Board used for primarily land-use issues and issuing permits.
He then made a motion to have discussion on Planning Board functions placed on the agenda for the Oct. 28 meeting.
Selectman Byron Ouellette asked Town Manager John Madigan if there was “some sort of formula to how the Planning Board is supposed to run, or if it was the town’s responsibility to decide.”
Madigan replied that planning boards primarily deal with land use and issuing permits, although they can also be approached to “reword ordinances and oversee new developments in town.”
Aniel said, “It’s been awhile since the Planning Board was created, and I’m not sure about some of their exact duties. It’d be nice to discuss it at the next meeting.”
Chairman Richie Philbrick agreed with Aniel and asked Madigan to find what the state law says about planning board duties before their Oct. 28 meeting.
In other business, the selectmen voted 3-2 to approve a resolution stating their support in opposing Question 1 on the Maine referendum ballot.
Question 1 asks if residents wish to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety or research.
Selectmen Albert Aniel and Andy Dupuis opposed supporting the question.
“I support the ban,” Aniel said. “Maine’s one of the few states that still does this. All the other ones have banned it. If anything, I think the current bear baiting situation going on now is actually encouraging bears to seek out human contact, because they know they’re going to get fed if they do.”
Aniel added that he “had a real problem with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife going on TV and making commercials against the ban.”
“They get their money from hunting licenses,” Aniel said. “They have a direct financial gain for continuing this bear baiting. I think it’s inhumane, not sport-like and there’s no need for it. Why do we even still do it?”
“Because it works,” Selectman Byron Ouellette said.
Selectman Reggie Arsenault said that if bear baiting is eliminated from the state of Maine, it’s “the beginning of the end.”
“I’ve talked to eight or 10 people that told me the man who started the discussion about ending bear baiting wants to stop using dogs to hunt rabbits, stop bird hunting, stop the trapping of beavers and coyotes,” Arsenault said.
“I don’t care about that,” Aniel said. “This is about bears, and I’m against it. There’s absolutely nothing sport-like about waiting in a tree, waiting for the bear to come and eat the food you laid out, and before he has a chance to burp, you shoot him.”
“It’s inhumane,” Dupuis said, agreeing with Aniel.