BREWER, Maine — City councilors are expected to table a proposal to change open-burning rules and consider spending more than $407,000 on trucks, equipment and property at their meeting tonight.
The open-burning amendment may be tabled in response to concerns residents raised last week during an informational meeting and public hearing about the planned changes, Councilor Larry Doughty said Monday.
“We’re not ready for it,” he said.
Residents mostly were concerned about a portion of the amendment presented to councilors last month that would ban open burning in backyards, except when cooking food, Doughty said.
“Everybody was concerned that they couldn’t have little fires in their backyards,” he said. “That’s not going to be the case.”
The open-burning rules will be modified, but “very little is going to change” for residents, he said, adding that the proposed modifications under review will center on adding “teeth” to the Fire Department’s ability to stop illegal fires.
A rewritten version of the rules will be presented for public discussion at a future meeting.
Tonight’s council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Councilors also will consider purchasing a list of replacement trucks and equipment, which total more than $291,000, and signing an agreement to spend $116,122 for property.
“They’re all 14 to 16 years old,” Doughty said of the vehicles being replaced.
The replacement vehicle funding, if approved, would be used to purchase two pickup trucks for $20,733 each for Public Works and the Water Pollution Control Facility; a cutaway van for $30,806 for the sewer department,; a pickup and plow for $32,854 for Parks and Recreation; a dump truck and plow for $113,529 for Public Works; and two replacement loaders for $72,892.
The funds for the trucks and equipment will come from vehicle replacement accounts, Doughty said.
“Every year we put money aside,” he said. “This is the year everything kicks in.”
He added, “I have to tell you, I was kind of thunderstruck” by the list, especially with today’s tough economic times, “but they need to be replaced.”
The purchase and sales agreement that councilors will review is for property located at the corner of Wilson and North Main streets known as the Archer Block owned by Florence Archer.
“This building has been there since the roads were dirt in Brewer,” Doughty wrote in his blog on Sept. 10.
The purchase and sales agreement has a July 9 closing date and requires United States Department of Housing and Urban Development approval.
That’s because “we’d be using some federal [HUD] grant funds, awarded a couple years ago, that would cover the purchase costs.” Some of the funds would go toward demolishing the block of buildings and adding a proposed pocket park and parking lot, D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer economic development director, said on Monday.
The specifics about what the property would be used for have not been completed, Main-Boyington said.