Government at a glance

Board: Auburn City Council

Met: Monday night

Growth rules

Issue: Councilors are considering changes to the city’s zoning code, letting them avoid some pieces of the Informed Growth Act.
The scoop: The act is a 2007 law requiring municipalities to conduct impact studies on new developments larger than 75,000 square feet before approving them. Part of the act requires developers to pay the state $40,000 to cover the costs of those studies.
Councilors approved the measure on first reading last month.

Up next: Councilors approved it again for the final time Monday.

Public works labor talks

Issue: A difficult national economy will keep the city from offering cost-of-living raises to public works employees, according to a proposed labor contract.

The scoop: A proposed labor deal between the city and the local Teamsters Union, number 340, would give employees step wage increases based on merit. It puts off cost-of-living increases for one year. Assistant City Manager Laurie Smith said that deal, negotiated with the union leaders, will be renegotiated next year. Cost-of-living raises could be back then if national economic conditions improve.

Up next: Councilors approved, directing city staff to sign the deal with the union.

Gritty’s patio parties

Issue: Councilors agreed to let downtown brewpub Gritty McDuff’s use a public area between the brewpub and the Androscoggin River for private banquets and special celebrations two times this summer. The brewpub would like to make that use a permanent right.

The scoop: The brewpub took over the space, at the top of the Riverwalk, in June for a private banquet and this past weekend during the Liberty Festival. The restaurant and pub set up tables between its back deck and the city’s fence along the Riverwalk, near Festival Plaza. Security personnel were hired for the event and any bands or music wrapped up by 10 p.m.

City Manager Glenn Aho told councilors he is considering a policy letting private groups pay to use city spaces. Under his current proposal, the city would charge Gritty’s or other private groups $100 each time they wanted to take over city-owned spaces. Each use would be have to be approved by the public works director and the police, fire and public works departments.

In Gritty’s case, the brewpub could be given a credit for weekly mowing on grassy area between their restaurant and the river. Aho said he’s considering giving the pub a $30 credit each time it mows the lot.

Up next: Councilors will take the matter up at a regular meeting later this summer.

Storm water management

Issue: The city is working on a 15-year plan to control how storm water runoff from public properties flows into the Androscoggin River. That’s involved building a separate storm water sewer system.

The scoop: New state environmental protection rules require the city to begin monitoring private storm water systems. Those are systems that collect rain and snow runoff and direct them into the Androscoggin River. Councilors need to adopt a final plan by Sept. 1.

The plan would have the city monitor new construction that creates disturbed land or hard, water-resistant surfaces larger than one acre. It requires those property owners to have plans in place to mitigate storm water run off from their hard surfaces.
Up next: Councilors approved the first reading of the plan and will see it again later this summer.

Contact government reporter Scott Taylor via phone at 689-2846 or via e-mail at [email protected]


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