Board: Lewiston City Council

Met: Tuesday night 

Stormwater inspections

Issue: State and federal water quality rules require the
city to keep track of storm runoff from roads and developments. That
includes rain, snow or other water flowing from private property to
public ditches, streams ponds and the Androscoggin River.

The scoop: A new rule explains how water quality monitoring would be performed in newly constructed developments. It calls
for annual inspections of private parking areas, catch basins and ponds
once they’ve been designed to state standards and approved. It would
apply to as many as eight properties in Lewiston currently, requiring
those owners to spend between $250 to $1,200 annually for inspections.

Councilors balked at  passing those inspection costs on to
developers and property owners. Councilors also disagreed with creating inspections when there were no licensing standards for the people doing the inspections.

City Planner David Hediger said not
adopting the ordinances could open the city to lawsuits from
environmental and special interest groups.

Up next: Uncomfortable with the ordinance,
councilors tabled the matter and asked the city’s Planning Board to
review it and suggest alternatives.

Landfill safety

When a resident, dumping some recycling materials at the city’s
landfill fell and injured himself in June, staff installed 42-inch-tall guardrail barriers in front of the bulky
items recycling roll-off dumpsters.
Residents and councilors complained those barriers make dumping recyclables difficult. But because of insurance concerns, some sort of barrier must be there, staff said.

The scoop: Councilors last month didn’t like that idea or the concept of moving the recycling dumping to another part of the dump. They asked staff to consider requiring dump users to sign a waiver acknowledging any dangers.

In a report by the city attorney, councilors were told Tuesday that signed waivers don’t guarantee that the city wouldn’t be sued if another resident is injured and wouldn’t guarantee the city would win that kind of suit. Acting City Administrator Phil Nadeau said the dump could also lose its insurance if the barriers were removed.

Councilors disagreed, with Councilor Tom Peters saying he is confident that municipal protections and Maine torte law would keep the city from being sued by a resident that had signed a safety waiver.

Up next: Councilors voted to remove the barriers, opting to have residents sign a safety waiver.

Illegal parking

Issue: Neighbors of 26 vacant city lots have
started using those dirt or gravel parcels as neighborhood
parking. That’s a worry for city staffers since it’s a potential zoning
code violation and a possible legal liability. The lots are located all over the city — between Canal Street and the Androscoggin River, between Canal and Lisbon streets and around Kennedy Park.

The scoop: City planning staff and Planning Board members
recommended the city barricade those lots and cover them with loam and
grass seed, making them unusable for parking.
Councilor Tom Peters said he felt that might be a waste of space, and suggested the city see if neighbors or abutting property owners might be willing to pay for the nearby lots and to maintain them for a while. The city could reclaim the lots if they found a better use for them.

Up next: Councilors asked city staffers to talk to abutters to see if any would be interested in maintaining the lots in exchange for using them.

Event aid
Issue: Organizers of special public events frequently ask for city help in the form of waiving registration fees or donating some city services.

The scoop: Two events asked for city help Tuesday. New Beginnings at 436 Main St. sponsored a 5K race last month to benefit homeless youth. It cost the city $424 to help set up the event, and the group asked councilors to waive those charges.

The Abused Women’s Advocacy Project has set up a lighted display near the fountains at the corner of Main and Lincoln streets for the month of October. They asked the city to waive $27 worth of electricity fees for that display.

The city’s Energy Savings Committee is planning to host an event
Oct. 24 at Kennedy Park to recognize the International Day of Climate
Action. Organizers asked the council to waive any fees associated with the event and provide some help setting it up.

Up next: Councilors agreed to waive the fees.

Drug funds
Issue: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency shares proceeds from drug busts with the other police agencies involved in investigations. In Lewiston’s case, the money is put into a special account to help pay for drug enforcement actions.

The scoop: Councilors on Tuesday accepted proceeds from two drug arrests, claiming a share of $930 in seizures.

Fall schedule

Issue: November’s election falls on the scheduled first City Council meeting of the month. Councilors considered canceling that meeting, as well as making other changes to their fall meeting schedule.

The scoop: Councilors would schedule one regular meeting on Nov. 17. They also plan workshop meetings Oct. 13, 15 and 20 and several times in November and December.

Up next: Councilors approved the proposed schedule.

Liquor licenses

Issue: Local restaurants and bars must reapply for liquor licenses
and amusement permits each year. Liquor licenses permit the
establishments to serve alcohol; amusement permits allow them to play
music, have a DJ, host karaoke or have games on site.

The scoop: Councilors renewed special amusement permits for Friends Lodge, 724 Main St., and Lewiston Social Club, 347 Lisbon St.

Next meeting: The next City Council workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 13.

A joint meeting with the Auburn Council is scheduled for Oct. 15.

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

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