SANGERVILLE, Maine — Local residents presented Sangerville selectmen with a proposed public indecency ordinance Thursday. The ordinance would prohibit certain sexual acts and nudity in business establishments in what proponents described as an effort to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.
The ordinance, and an earlier petition for a nudity ordinance that was signed by more than 200 residents, was sparked by a Portland man’s plan to open a gentleman’s club, nightclub and lounge on Route 23, also known as North Dexter Road.
“We believe that we’ve come up with good wording, good language for an ordinance,” resident Hillier Artman said Thursday as he presented selectmen with a three-page document. He said the ordinance was similar to ordinances that were adopted in Dexter and Holden.
Sangerville has no zoning ordinances that would prohibit such a venture.
Selectmen agreed to forward the proposed ordinance, which exempts women who breast-feed babies in public, to the town’s attorney for review. Once the wording has been cleared by the attorney, a town meeting will be called to act on the document.
While resident Melissa Randall supported the ordinance, she said Thursday she also opposed the bar. She suggested that the attorney also be asked how a bar could be prevented in that location.
“We want the nudity ordinance first and foremost, but there is a portion of us who do not want the bar,” Randall said. “I don’t care about a bar up in the village, I don’t want it in South Sangerville.”
Because a notice of intent to improve has been filed for the club by the landowner, resident Ron Smith asked if the town was setting itself up for a legal battle. “Can we automatically deny this because there’s no ordinance in place that he’s violated?” he asked.
Selectman Lance Burgess said some ordinances could be retroactive and the attorney would offer some advice on that.
Shifting to finances Thursday, selectmen learned that the general government article approved at the annual town meeting had unintentionally excluded $22,600 for contractual expenses and $3,150 for town hall maintenance in the general government account. The funds were in the original budget.
Newly hired Town Manager Michelle Dumoulin said the Maine Municipal Association gave the town three options to correct the oversight. The town could hold a special town meeting before the taxes were committed and allocate the funds; hold a special town meeting after the taxes were committed and transfer the funds from surplus; or do an unauthorized expenditure that would need to be ratified later.
Selectmen agreed to the second option since there is more than $500,000 in the surplus account.
The tax rate for the town was set by the board at $16 per $1,000 in property valuation, a decrease of 70 cents from the previous rate. That allows the town $35,000 for overlay. Dumoulin said the rate could be dropped because the state valuation went up $1.5 million and municipal expenditures went down.