NEW VINEYARD — Town meeting voters passed a six-month spending plan Saturday as the first step toward changing the town budget from a calendar year to a fiscal year.

Voters raised and appropriated $269,769 to run the town for the first six months of 2018. Last year’s 12-month budget was $501,000.

“If you double what we raised for these six months, that would have been a $39,000 increase over last year,” Deputy Treasurer Carrie Morrell said.

Much discussion revolved around proposed shoreland zoning changes before voters approved them. Adrienne Rollo, Planning Board chairwoman, said the state’s updated laws won’t affect camps on Porter Lake that have been grandfathered, and other modifications are based on protecting waterfowl habitat.

“It looks like Porter Lake is in limited residential (designation), so we’re OK there,” she said.

Since these proposed shoreland zoning rules soon will be state law, Rollo said, voters on Saturday had the opportunity to adapt regulations for their town. Some of the mandated updates involve construction of docks and related structures and removal of trees. Rollo advised townspeople to be sure they have their information correct before they make any significant changes, because significant penalties can be imposed on those who break the law.

“If you’re going to remove trees in any significant area, you really should consult with the code enforcement officer,” she said.

Voters approved a change to the building permit lot footprint from 43,560 square feet to 40,000 square feet.

Rollo said original Planning Board materials had been stored in the Smith Hall basement and had suffered irreparable water damage, but she did find documentation for setback rules affecting property owners on Mill Pond. The Planning Board recommended, and voters approved, changing the resource protection designation to limited residential status.

“Right now, (owners) can’t even build a dog house, based on the restrictions,” she said.

Voters also raised and appropriated $40,010 for maintenance and handicapped-accessibility improvements to Smith Hall. 

The exterior ramp and available parking spaces don’t meet standards for the Americans with Disabilities Act, Richard Hargreaves said. He had volunteered to look into the ADA issues at the hall. He said the town might be able to buy a lift that could bring people to different levels. Selectman Seth Webber said the owners of the Maine Wood Turning mill had shown interest in signing a long-term lease for parking access.

Voters also discussed the problems with collecting delinquent taxes. Property owners who don’t pay their taxes for three years face foreclosure and lose their property. Some property owners pay the oldest of the three years in back taxes to avoid foreclosure. They also pay 7 percent interest on that amount and associated municipal recovery costs, so that could be seen as revenue for the town, resident Scott Webber said.

This year’s town report was dedicated to the late Rodney Holbrook and the late David Kidd Jr. The town will have a second meeting on June 2 to approve the July 1 to June 30 fiscal year budget and to elect a selectman, three Planning Board members and two alternates.

New Vineyard Planning Board Chairwoman Adrienne Rollo explains the state’s changes in shoreland zoning laws and their impact on property owners at town meeting Saturday. (Valerie Tucker photo)


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