The Board of Selectmen held a public hearing on September 9th at 5pm to discuss dangerous buildings after receiving complaints from the Code Enforcement Officer who identified two buildings in the Town he determined to be a nuisance or dangerous, thus initiating the dangerous buildings process. The Municipal Officers of a municipality may after notice and hearing adjudge a building to be a nuisance or dangerous and order the building to be repaired or removed. Tom Lillis, Code Enforcement Officer offered a sequence of events and provided a packet that identified conditions of both properties. The first property discussed is identified as 35 Hotel Road. The floor was opened to public comments, at which time it appeared the visual impact on the neighbors was the most concerning. While statements were made concerning public safety and the safety of children on or around the property, a neighboring property owner made an admission of seeing “kids” on the property and not calling anyone to have it addressed and another admitted to gaining access to the posted property by walking on it and around it including looking in doors and windows and entering the premises. The property owner, Gary Shamshoyan was present to state his position. The second property discussed is identified as 74 Bald Mountain Road. There was far less public input on this parcel and the Code Enforcement Officer stated the property owner, Thomas Patton (present), has been making progress on the clean up and remained in communication with him. The line between public safety and private property ownership rights, even when property is posted against trespassing, seems to be thin if non-existent when dealing with “dangerous buildings”. The hearing was concluded at 5:55 pm.

Chairman Philbrick opened the regular Board meeting at 6:02 pm, making an adjustment to the agenda to allow Perry Ellsworth to present John Madigan with a lifetime membership award to MTCMA (Maine Town and City Managers Association). Two additional adjustments were made. The first was a motion to deem old runway lights as surplus and authorize the sale of them. The motion was approved. Also an action concerning Dangerous Buildings was added as the first item under old business.

Gary Shaffer was recognized under public to speak on a non-agenda item and asked if there were any limitations to where petitions can be circulated. Special interest was given to the Town owned property of the Transfer Station. State law regulates petition circulation and imposes no location specific circulation restrictions, in fact pursuant to 30-A M.R.S.A. sec 2504, municipalities are barred from enacting any charter provision or ordinance that would prohibit the circulation of petitions for any local initiative. Towns must allow petitions for local initiatives to be freely circulate.

Consent items included approving liquor license renewals for Moose Alley and the Hungry Trout and authorizing three separate expenses from reserve accounts- $4,000 from town office reserve for computer upgrades to Windows 10, $75,000 from capital equipment fire reserve and $25,000 from fire department reserve for the purchase of a unit to replace Rescue 2 and $500 from the airport reserve for the ribbon cutting ceremony, scheduled for September 21, 2019 at 10 am. There was an additional consent item added to authorize an expense of $1,500 to have the new fire unit inspected by North East Fire Apparatus prior to purchase and a follow up and a motion was made and ratified to make the purchase of the unit contingent upon passing that inspection.

Old Business would begin with determination of findings and order for the dangerous buildings discussed during the public hearing. A motion was made, seconded and approved to order that the building located at 74 Bald Mountain Road be removed in a safe way in consultation with the Town’s Code Enforcement Officer and in compliance with all relevant Town and State laws within 60 days of the date of the order, September 9, 2019. An additional motion was made, seconded and approved to order that the building, debris piles from the two collapsed structures and accumulated items on the lot located at 35 Hotel Road be removed in a safe way in consultation with the Town’s Code Enforcement Officer and in compliance with all relevant Town and State laws within 60 days of the date of the order, September 9, 2019, contingent on a clean title. Selectman Cindy Egan mentioned there appears to be a mortgage on the property and an unreleased foreclosure, which may impact the ability of the Town to impose the order.

Latest road estimates discussion would indicate we will fall short of the needs in early projections, the cost of road construction has seen an increase, funding options were discussed and a public hearing to further explore the options was scheduled for 5pm September 23rd.

A recent visit from MMA underwriters for an unrelated training would bring some concerns to light regarding RRHAT (Rangeley Region Health Appointment Transportation) van insurance coverage, specifically if a client or driver claimed assault. The underwriter advised the Town to either walk away from the program altogether or move ahead with the adoption of an ordinance and make it an official Town program. The Board consensus was to move forward with creating an ordinance.

A verified and certified petition has been submitted and met the requirements to go before the Board of Selectmen asking to bring a question concerning marijuana business regulations to the November 5, 2019 ballot. Excerpts from the Maine Municipal Associations Town Meeting and Elections Manual indicate state law makes important provisions for voters’ right to petition, the municipal officers can refuse to put a petitioned article on a warrant if it would be reasonable to do so, no definition of a “reasonable refusal” appears in statutes. Selectman Cindy Egan would argue the petition presented would fall under the act of seeking reconsideration of action after formal adjournment, creating a ping-ponging of warrant issues by a minority group of dissatisfied voters which has been withheld by superior court to be an allowable reason for refusal. The Town has, on at least two other occasions that come to mind, allowed for reconsideration of action after formal adjournment, one by petition, one by Board of Selectmen calling a special election, recycling and culture (fireworks). There was further discussion raising questions if the case law applied in this situation, the question and supporting document could be seen as different than the previous and by that designation a “new” article. The Board voted to send the petition and supporting language to the Town attorney for review. If this article is to be placed on the November ballot, a decision that can be made by the Board of Selectmen, they would need to hold a special meeting. *At the time of this meeting they had decided not to hold such and to place it on the next regularly scheduled meeting agenda of September 23rd.

Department head updates were submitted, a dialogue was opened with Northstar to increase first responders in the area, the Solar Committee will be meeting September 24th at 5pm, and the next regularly scheduled Board meeting is September 23rd, 2019, beginning at 5pm with a workshop about road projects funding.

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*After receiving legal opinion from the Town attorney Stephen Langsdorf, a special meeting was called for September 16, 2019 at 6pm to vote to accept the Marijuana Business Regulation Ordinance petition and place it on the November 5, 2019 ballot. A motion by Cindy Egan, to place it on the June 2020 election warrant was defeated. A subsequent motion by Donald Nuttall to accept the petition and place it on the November ballot was approved by 4-1 vote. There will be a public hearing held September 30, 2019 at 6pm at the Town Office to meet the requirement of one to be held 10 days before the election.

Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

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