DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Amendments to the shoreland zoning ordinance that will aid in the redevelopment of the former Moosehead property downtown along the Piscataquis River were approved at a special town meeting on Nov. 14.
“Primarily we got to this amendment because the zone does not allow for residential development,” Town Manager Jack Clukey said, explaining that the area was previously designated for industrial usage but not housing, which will be part of the planned mixed-use redevelopment of the former mill.
He said the the town worked with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on the language in the amendments because the DEP has assisted other communities that have converted former riverside mill sites into mixed-use properties.
The amendments also allow for “some very limited structures within the flood zone, some very small tool sheds,” Clukey said.
During the ensuing selectmen’s meeting, the board approved a proposed snowmobile trail to reroute the previously established travel way on Essex Street to cross town property from the Landfill Road to the Rideout property on Essex Street.
“We can do this for a year to see how this works,” Select Chairman Elwood Edgerly said. “If we had issues we could address it again; it’s not as if it is a forever thing.”
Select Vice Chairman Cindy Freeman Cyr, whose property is adjacent to a town parcel the snowmobile route will go through, asked that action not be taken on Nov. 14. Freeman Cyr said not every abutting landowner had been notified of the proposed snowmobile trail, and that she was informed only as a result of being on the board.
“I think it’s only a courtesy, I don’t see the urgency,” she said. “I feel somewhat blindsided by this being an action item tonight.”
Freeman Cyr made a motion to table the item, but it was turned down 5-1. Freeman Cyr later abstained in the 5-0 vote to allow the snowmobile trail for the next year.
Clukey said the town has had a chance to use a 2012 Kobelco excavator on a trial basis, and that it will replace a 1988-model excavator.
The purchase and use of the excavator would be shared by the public works and wastewater
departments. “It would be purchased by the wastewater department and we would reimburse them for that, probably for a six-year period,” Clukey said. The nearly $108,000 principal cost would be split into yearly payments of just under $18,000, with an additional approximate $830 in annual interest over the half dozen years.
In his town manager’s report, Clukey provided updates on several developments, including the establishment of a wellness program for town employees via the Maine Municipal Health Trust. “It just offers employees a chance to make improvements in their health and fitness levels, and is something we are hoping to get going in 2013,” he said.
Clukey said a candidate for a vacant Maine Drug Enforcement Agency position withdrew the
application, but interviews will be conducted with the goal being to present a candidate at the December meeting.
“We did a bid walk today with contractors,” he said later in the report, referring to interior demolition work at the Moosehead property. Clukey said four companies took part in the walk and bids are due later in the month with the demolition expected to start by mid- to late December.
Selectmen Scott Taylor provided an update on a meeting of the recreation committee, saying committee members met with Piscataquis Regional YMCA Executive Director Deb Boyd for information on the various Y programs, for all ages, and how the organization and committee have been and can continue to work together.
“There will be a learn-to-skate-program at the rink this winter for hockey and figure skating,” Taylor said.
Selectman Jim Annis said in reading the Maine Townsman he noticed that Dover-Foxcroft’s municipal report was listed as excellent.
Clukey said the municipal report placed third in Maine for communities with populations of 2,500 to 5,000. He credited town employees for their work on the report, and said it was produced in-house to help keep costs down.
“There’s a lot of little towns out there and to be in the top three I’m really pleased,” Annis said.
Freeman Cyr said she volunteered to assist on Election Day. “I’m really glad that I had a chance to work with our staff, and it was obvious to me the process was seamless,” she said. “For me, it felt like a real affirmation of democracy at work.”
Resident Sue Mackey Andrews also praised town staff and volunteers for their work on Nov. 6. She said patients in the ICU and in surgery at Mayo Regional Hospital were unsure if their medical situations would enable them to vote, but Town Clerk Lisa Niles “went up and took care of them; it was a considerable number of people who were able to do that.”
Clukey said more than 2,100 residents voted, and “In the last presidential elections, I don’t believe we had that many people.” He said by 2 p.m. about 100 residents had registered to vote that day, and he praised those working at the polls for their efforts to ensure the entire process went smoothly.