June 19, 2018
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Wiscasset eyes limits on adult entertainment

Larry Grard | The Times Record
Larry Grard | The Times Record
Ed Polewarczyk takes his new seat as chairman of the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night. The board elected Judy Colby as the new vice chairwoman.
By Larry Grard, Times Record

WISCASSET, Maine — Residents will vote in November on an ordinance that would establish restrictions on adult entertainment in the town’s rural and commercial districts.

Selectmen voted 4-1 Tuesday in favor of an ordinance some municipal officials say may be unconstitutional as worded. Jefferson Slack cast the dissenting vote, without comment.

Town Planner Misty Parker noted in her presentation that adult entertainment cannot be banned, based on freedom of speech, but that municipalities can regulate such facilities.

The ordinance “provides restrictions on nudity of live persons, serving of alcohol in the establishment and drawings or other pictorial representations from exterior signage,” Parker said.

“Furthermore, the ordinance would require 1,500-foot setbacks from all places of worship, educational institutions and public recreation areas, as well as a 250-foot setback from all residential property lines.”

Parker said the commercial district is no more than 500 feet wide on either side of U.S. Route 1, making setbacks “tricky.”

Because of the narrow district boundary, a setback from residential property lines greater than 250 feet would provide no viable option to locate an adult entertainment establishment.

That could make the ordinance unconstitutional, the document continues.

Parker said that the committee used a model from the former Maine State Planning Office.

Ten miles south, the city of Bath has imposed a temporary moratorium on such businesses, while city officials finalize an ordinance of their own.

In other business, Town Manager Laurie Smith and other town officials are pondering their next move regarding significant cuts in the town budget.

On top of more than $380,000 in spending decreases approved by the board, residents voted in major cuts of their own during last week’s Town Meeting — including no funding for the transfer station or the planning office.

Voters approved an override of the LD 1 state law that curbs the growth in spending, so town officials have three months to devise new departmental budgets and bring them back to voters in a special town meeting.

“We can run all the departments for three months,” Slack said prior to the meeting, “but we obviously can’t do without a transfer station or a planning office. So we’ll have to come up with some new numbers.”

Earlier Tuesday, the board voted Ed Polewarcyk as its new chairman. Polewarczyk, the only person nominated, succeeds Pam Dunning, who remains on the board.

Judy Colby, also the only nominee, is the new vice chairwoman. Tim Merry, the winner of a recent three-way election to replace Bill Curtis, sat in on his first meeting as a member.

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