Poland voters say no to charter commission

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POLAND — Voters at Saturday’s town meeting at Poland Regional High School turned down the establishment of a charter commission at the town meeting by a vote of 55-64.

Views on the issue voiced by several residents indicated an inclination to leave well enough alone. 

Supporters of the proposal argued that the town’s charter needs to be updated in order to address circumstances that did not exist 10 or more years ago.

One of these is operation of the town’s schools as part of Regional School Unit 16, which includes Mechanic Falls and Minot Schools, rather than Poland schools alone.

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A few residents also expressed opposition to consideration of charter changes that might lead to a different form of town government.

Resident Bill Eldridge urged voters to defeat the proposal and to leave charter changes to elected officials.

“We need to be sure that every citizen will have a voice,” he said.

Ike Levine, another resident opposing the formation of a charter commission, said he has not seen any evidence of a “groundswell of uncomfortableness” with the town’s operation under its present charter.

With defeat of the charter commission proposal, it was not necessary to vote on the town warrant’s next article, which would have raised $15,000 to fund the commission.

Another issue generating significant discussion was authorization of the expenditure of $60,000 for engineering and permitting of the parking area at the Municipal Complex on Route 26.

Nicholas L. Adams, Poland’s code enforcement officer and planner, said the funds are already in the Municipal Facilities Reserve and the question allows the expenditure.

One resident said the Municipal Complex is becoming known as the “Poland money pit.” It was pointed out that previous studies have dealt with the location’s run-off and other factors, and a resident suggested that spending more is not necessary.

Adams said it is not known at this point what the total parking area cost would be. It was emphasized that the engineering and permitting is a required first step, and voters approved the article.

The proposed total for municipal and county funds to be raised for 2017-18 is $4.61 million. According to the town meeting budget summary, the total is $14,504 more than last year.

In other business, voters:

• Passed several amendments to the Poland Comprehensive Land Use Code. The amendments clarified rules for setback and height of buildings, as well as defining modular homes and expansions to non-conforming structures within the shoreland zone.

• Defeated a proposed amendment to wetlands areas on the Poland zoning map.

• Passed a Comprehensive Land Use Code amendment to include Winter Brook on the zoning map, 62-48.

• Approved municipal articles which raised $554,268 for town administration; $281,927 for community services; $763,136 for Public Works and Solid Waste departments; $979,926 for public safety and $788,690 for financial services.

• Approved the town’s Capital Improvement Program in the amount of $806,610. That amount includes $430,000 for town roads.

Poland’s town meeting on April 1 had to be rescheduled when fewer than the required 100 registered voters attended. The attendance was well over 100 for Saturday morning’s successful second try for a quorum.

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