May 20, 2018
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Divided Brewer City Council changes rules on impact fees

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — In a 3-2 decision, the Brewer City Council changed the land-use code Tuesday night so that it can now bring forward for council action impact-fee adjustments without the city manager’s approval.

“It’s my belief — if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Mayor Jerry Goss said just before voting against the measure.

Councilor Arthur “Archie” Verow proposed removing the requirement that the city manager approve changes in the formula for “impact fees,” one-time payments charged to businesses for infrastructure improvements.

The Planning Board opposes the land use code change and last month sent the council a recommendation to vote down the idea, which Goss mentioned during Tuesday night’s discussion. Councilor Kevin O’Connell also voted against the move.

The city created its impact fee ordinance in May 2001 as a way to offset costs of improving infrastructure — roads, traffic control, water, stormwater and waste handling — when a new business or development settles in the Wilson Street corridor.

Impact fees are “determined on the basis of infrastructure needs in the service area, the proportionate share generated by the development project and the timing of proposed infrastructure improvement,” the land use code states.

Before Tuesday night’s vote, the relevant section read: “The formula for assessing said fees for each Area Capital Investment District will be prepared and submitted by the City Manager to the City Council for approval, and may be amended periodically by the Council upon recommendation by the City Manager.”

The amendment remove the word “upon” and replaced it with “with or without a” recommendation by the city manager.

“It may not be broke, but I think it can be improved,” Verow said. “I think this is an improvement.”

“I agree,” said Councilor Larry Doughty.

During the meeting, councilors also:

• Recognized resident Holly Baker for her “outstanding performance” at a recent marathon in Portland.

• Hired G.R. Roofing of Brewer to fix the old library’s roof at a cost not to exceed $25,000. Councilors, who had discussed demolishing the Union Street building, have decided to preserve it after learning it would cost up to $250,000 to remove it.

• Purchased a new 2012 Ford F-150 XL for the Water Pollution Control Facility from Quirk Ford of Augusta for $19,757, and declared the department’s 1999 GMC Sierra 2500 pickup and a 1995 Ford F-250 pickup as surplus.

• Approved a nonexclusive lease for 50 parking spaces on Acme Road and a construction easement for Ward Enterprises Holdings LLC, owned by Carl Ward, who has planning board approval to build a 11,200-square-foot indoor batting facility and concrete coring company. “It will be a nice little business,” Ben Breadmore, Brewer’s code enforcement officer, said Wednesday.

• Increased the salary of the city assessor to $69,000. “Brewer’s rate of pay for this position was below average for comparable communities” the order allocating an additional $9,600 for the position states. The council later hired Steven Weed of Lamoine for the job. He starts Oct. 22.

• Heard there is an open house at Brewer Community School at 6 p.m. Oct. 25 for parents and citizens to learn from local experts about the history of Brewer, which is being worked into the school’s curriculum, Councilor Joe Ferris announced.

• Heard from City Clerk Howard Kroll that absentee voting and voter registration begins at Brewer Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 15, and runs through Nov. 1.

• Set the annual post-election meeting for 6 p.m. Nov. 20 at Schooners restaurant. “Hope I’m there,” said longtime Councilor Doughty, who along with Goss, is running for his seat on the council against local mail carrier Matthew Vachon.

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