The developers of the proposed Residences at Bethel Station argued that their plan meets the two-and-a-half-story and 35 feet code that Bethel requires. The appeals board will hear their argument. The proposal would add 38 condominium units on a plot not far from the town’s old train station, across from Bethel’s Waste Water Treatment Plant on Walkers Mills Road. THA Architects

BETHEL — On a suggestion by Selectboard Chair Meryl Kelly,  The Bethel Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to give the Spirit of America Award to all of the employees of the Town of Bethel.

At a meeting held on Feb. 7, Kelly said, “The Town of Bethel has had a tumultuous year.”

The award ceremony will take place at the beginning of Bethel town meeting in June.

A discussion ensued when a request was made to recognize a resident for past service at Town Meeting. Selectboard member Frank Del Duca said Town Meeting was a business meeting. Town Manger Sharon Jackson agreed, “Recognize only the business on the warrant,” she said.


The board unanimously confirmed the Town Manager’s appointment of Courtney McPherson to the position of Code Enforcement Officer.


Jackson said McPherson was hired with an effective date of Jan. 29. She has completed the training for her other roles as local health officer and E-91 coordinator. She has one year to get local plumbing certification, sub source waste water training, legal issues training; land use and shoreland zoning, said Jackson. (see related story).

With McPherson’s appointment to CEO, two other positions, Planning Assistant and Assessors’ Assistant will need to be filled. Jackson said she would like to revise both positions and possibly add to the parttime position before they are advertised.

Town Manager

On Feb. 7, Town Manager Sharon Jackson and Finance Director, Amy Hanscom met with three Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives.

The FEMA representatives felt the 10 people in the trailer park on Jonathan Clark Rd. off Route 2 had the worst damages from the Dec. 18 storm. Hanscom and Jackson are sending emails directly to these people so they know how to apply. More information for renters and homeowners is posted on the town’s web page.

Small business will be offered low interest loans.


The town is not only entitled to replacement infrastructure from storm damage but also to mitigation upgrades, said Jackson.

The public and the municipality will have one month to apply.

35 ft./2.5 stories

The board discussed a Bethel Planning Board request for the ordinance review committee to review Site Plan Standard 140-7 (3). “Building height.[Amended 6-9-2021] (a) Maximum building height: 35 feet above the average finished grade. (b) Maximum number of stories: 2.5.”

On Jan. 10, the Planning Board denied a request to the developers of Residences at Bethel Station, because their building proposal did not qualify under the town’s current ORC code of two-and-a-half stories and 35 feet.

Fire Chief Mike Jodrey said the developers knew from the get-go that their structure was not two-and-a-half stories. Jodrey said he has to follow the ordinance and based on legal interpretation from two different attorneys the developers did not meet the code when they filed their plan. He said they did meet the 35-foot restriction.


Planning Board Member Laurie Winsor asked the board to clarify the code for future proposals, there is no standard for what a half-story is.

She said townspeople had previously voted to have both definitions based on “village and community character.”  She said planning board members did not feel it was appropriate to abandon the two definitions.

“To the planning board members it felt messy and would be better to have a definition,” Winsor said.

Selectboard Member Pat McCartney said they should remove two-and-a-half stories and the code should read 35 feet.

The Selectboard voted to send the current code to the ORC for a rewrite.

In the meantime, the Appeals Board will make a decision on the height of the current project, Bethel Station. The proposal under consideration will add 38 condominium units to a plot across from Bethel’s Waste Water Treatment Plant on Walkers Mills Road. (Map 25, Lot 239, Cross Street)



Jackson said she will propose cost of living (COL) increases for employees of 3.2% for the FY2025 budget. She said some of Bethel’s town jobs are above the average of other towns, while others are below. A third category is in-line with current standards.

McCartney asked if the Selectboard wages could be adjusted, too.

Parkway project

In 2023 Matthew Drost of Maine Department of Transportation had been contacted by former Town Manager Natalie Andrews and Newry Town Administrator Loretta Powers to look at congestion management during busy ski weekends along Route 2 and 26, connected by The Parkway.

Drost responded to Jackson and Powers in an email on Jan. 10. He said, “to understand congesting techniques and receive recommendations for implementation might cost between $120k-$150k.


“We can anticipate that the state would participate with the two towns at 1/3 -1/3-1/3, and that perhaps Sunday River would participate, reducing everyone’s cost.”

“I would say this is dead on arrival,” said Selectboard member Frank Del Duca.

The Board agreed to “let it ride,” no action.

Powers presented the proposal to the Newry Selectboard on Feb. 6.

A change in funding of the Bethel Regional Airport on North Road will be discussed at an upcoming public hearing. Rose Lincoln/The Bethel Citizen file

Airport changes

Having attended recent Bethel Airport Authority meetings, Selectboard Vice Chair Michele Cole made her case for changing the budgeting for the airport.


Currently the airport and the Waste Water Treatment Plant monies are classified as enterprise funds – self-sufficient budgets in which expenses are less than or equal to revenue. Cole’s proposal would turn the airport budget into a town budget.

Currently taxpayers fund the airport from the general fund if the enterprise fund is not adequate.

The amendment Cole proposed would eliminate the enterprise fund. She said the airport authority is worried about covering its costs. She said she would rather have them be focused on safety, operation, and maintenance at the airport. She said when the town signed on to have an airport in the 1970’s, it became a town responsibility.

Cole said for the past few years the airport has used fund balance money anyway.

Kelly pointed out that the town has been against contributing tax money to waste water. With regard to the airport, she asked, “what’s in it for the average taxpayer?”

With the doors being locked at the airport now its not being used as a town space because FAA requires it not to be a town space.”


Jackson said, “According to the auditors it is not an enterprise account. We are treating it as an enterprise account, but it is not because it is not self-sufficient.”

If you have an enterprise account your revenues pay your expenses, said Jackson. “That doesn’t happen here.”

“In a way the townspeople have been supporting it,” said Cole.

“How does the airport help me? I don’t have a plane. I can’t go in and use the bathroom. I can’t use the public room anymore. So what’s the pitch?” Kelly said this is what voters will ask too.

“There are no more industrial lots that would have helped with the revenue … Just call a spade a spade. It’s happening anyway, let’s deal with it and have the legislative body go through the budget as it would any other department,” said Cole.

Del Duca said the airport is interconnected with all the airports in the country. It is a national network of transportation that the federal government finances 90% of, with the other 10% coming from the town, he said.


“There are people who fly in here on a regular basis to do business here, to send their kids to Gould, to do business with Sunday River. They also spend money in town …

“That is the pitch, that we are part of a national system … which brings up the value of what Bethel has to offer,” said Del Duca.

It was noted that there are four hangars and several planes at the airport.

A public hearing on this matter will take place next followed by a vote at Town Meeting.

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