JAY — Selectmen voted Monday to direct the town manager to prepare a warrant article to amend the town’s Environmental Control and Improvement Ordinance by suspending or modifying as necessary seven chapters.

The article would go before voters in June to see if they want to change the ordinance that provides local control over pollution from businesses pertaining to air emissions, water discharges and solid waste facilities.

Town Manager Ruth Cushman also clarified Monday that it was not Verso Paper that requested the suspension of the ordinance but selectmen in an effort to attract businesses to town.

Cushman wrote the motion that selectmen voted on Monday.

At a minimum, the amendment Cushman was directed to draft must accomplish the following:

• Recognize the adequacy of applicable federal and state laws related to environmental performance and compliance, including reporting.

• Modify the Environmental Reserve Fund rules to allow for paying for the code enforcement officer’s budget while administering the amended ordinance.

• Allow for a process to reinstate suspended or modified chapters of the ordinance at a later date if necessary.

As it is now, Planning Board member Maynard Veinottee said, the Planning Board is self-sufficient and eventually once the reserve account is run down, the town and the taxpayers are going to have to pay for it. The board and its oversight of environmental regulations is paid for through a reserve account made up of fees businesses that fall under regulation pay for permits.

Prior to a reserve account being established, taxpayers paid for permitting oversight, the Planning Board and code enforcement officer and other related expenses.

Cushman said Tuesday each of the selectmen had approached her at different times in the past asking what affect the ordinance had on the town’s economy and attracting businesses to the town. Then she and Chairman Steve McCourt toured the paper mill and mill Manager Marc Connor asked about the permit fees the town charges when the mill also has to pay for state and federal permits, which are similar in some ways to the local permits, for that oversight as well.

Select board Chairman Steve McCourt said after Monday’s meeting that he was the one who suggested the ordinance suspension. It was previously mentioned at a meeting by some that some businesses don’t come to Jay due to the cost of compliance with the town’s environmental ordinance while still having to adhere to state and federal regulations, he said.

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