OTISFIELD – It was all about the Earth at Otisfield’s selectmen’s meeting Wednesday night.

The agenda for the evening included Warrant No. 16 to pay the town’s bills, a letter to the town of Poland concerning Youth Conservation Corps funding for Thompson Lake, and a discussion of the need for a conservation committee in the town.

The illness and subsequent absence of Selectmen Thomas Nurmi prevented any significant discourse on the issue of a conservation committee. Many residents left the meeting early.

However, conservation still proved the dominant issue of the meeting.

Charles Grasso, who was fined $2,500 by the town for reconstruction of a bunkhouse without a permit, appealed to the board to decrease the amount owed.

“I’m a retired person, I’m on a fixed income, and it hurts,” pleaded Grasso.

Selectman Hal Ferguson praised Grasso for his cooperation in the matter.

Chairman Mark Cyr said the issue would be decided in the next meeting, and advocated that the money from the fine go toward a public awareness campaign regarding building permits.

Cyr warned, “$2,500 is mild compared to what we’re going to do in the future.” He said fines could reach up to $10,000. He suggested residents should call a zoning officer if they have any doubt over the legality of their renovations.

The letter to Poland urged that town, one of four on Lake Thompson, to support the Thompson Lake Environmental Association. According to Cyr, Otisfield, Oxford and Casco all support the TLEA, and Poland’s reluctance threatens the protection of the lake as a whole.

Cyr apologized for the lack of specific discussion on a conservation committee, which Otisfield does not have. In a written statement, resident Jean F. Hankins advocated such a committee to “prevent further rural housing sprawl by developing public and private strategies to preserve the town’s natural resources and open space.”

Similarly, Mary “Pixie” Williams wrote that a conservation committee would promote environmental protection and “encourage cooperation between our lake organizations.”

Other issues raised at the meeting included damage to the fire station, which fire Chief Mike Hooker said was caused by a snowplow during the recent winter storm.

Cyr also mentioned his continuing communication with John Shattuck of the Growth Council of Oxford Hills. The council recently canceled plans for a technology park, a project toward which Otisfield had contributed nearly $200,000.

The next selectmen’s meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, at the Otisfield Town Hall.


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