RUMFORD — Selectmen on Thursday debated three large-scale water-extraction ordinances, but only one will appear on the June town meeting warrant.

The ordinances are in response to Poland Spring Water Co.’s proposal for a 15- to 20-year contract with the Rumford Water District to draw up to 150 million gallons a year from two new wells on district property off Route 5.

In exchange, Poland Spring could pay the district more than $400,000 in annual lease and water payments.

The debate was largely between board Chairman Jeff Sterling and members of the Protect Rumford Water Alliance.

Alliance members Len Greaney and Jon Starr submitted ordinances, which were reviewed by attorney Kendall A. Ricker of Boothby Perry of Turner. He determined both ordinances violated interstate commerce laws.

Greaney said he thought his efforts to get an ordinance on the warrant were “dissed” by Sterling.

Sterling had advised Greaney to get a legal opinion when developing the ordinance, which he did not do.

Eventually, Stacy Carter asked the board to move the question. “We’re really just treading water here.”

Selectmen agreed and voted 3-1 to accept an ordinance from the Rumford Water District that was determined to be legal.

Trustees said their ordinance carefully, comprehensively and lawfully protects Rumford’s groundwater resources, and also creates a rigorous, fair and lawful permitting process. Protections for groundwater include strict monitoring requirements, alert and action levels, and curtailment or termination.

Another lengthy discussion involved an ordinance that would ban marijuana retail sales and establishments.
Seth Carey spoke vehemently against it, noting that a marijuana business would bring needed business to Rumford. At one point, he threatened to sue if selectmen voted to put this ordinance on the ballot.
Selectman Jim Windover said he saw the potential of dollars from a marijuana business and added that the town already has a moratorium in place, so they “don’t need this.”
Townspeople voted overwhelmingly Nov. 21 to approve an ordinance establishing a 180-day moratorium on retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs.
Carter urged selectmen to place the ordinance on the ballot.
The board voted 4-0 (Mark Belanger was absent) to put the ordinance on the ballot.
Sterling noted that these ordinances and Charter changes will go onto the ballot with explanations, making for a lengthy ballot presented to voters in June.
Selectman Peter Chase urged voters to take the time learn about these before entering the voting booth.
Town Manager Linda-Jean “LJ” Briggs said the ordinances and Charter changes will be able to be viewed on the town website after the approval of the town warrant, which is slated to happen on April 6.
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