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Friday, September 20, 2013: Orono quarry, Camden zoning and Maine retirement

Festival thanks

Millinocket had its annual Trails End Festival, Sept. 13-15, and we want to say what a great job was done. There was a variety of things for everybody to do all weekend long and amazingly all for free. From the shows at the bandstand to all the performers at the “pub crawl,” the music was awesome. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen. We truly appreciate it.

Jim Plourde



Quarry in Orono?

In the coming weeks, the Orono Planning Board and Orono Town Council will consider an

application to open a quarry in the town. Activities at the proposed quarry will include blasting,

mineral extraction and rock crushing. In addition to tons of crushed stone, the quarry will also

produce significant amounts of noise, dust, shocks from blasting and truck traffic.

All of these consequences will be shared with the neighboring residents of Orono, as the proposed quarry is adjacent to a residential neighborhood and close to homes on Kelley Road, Stillwater Avenue and Forest Avenue. The proposed quarry also abuts land on which the Orono Bog Boardwalk is sited, a treasure in our community.

Will a quarry be good for Orono? As the town’s leaders consider this question, they should

reflect on statements by economist Charles Colgan reported in a front page article in the

Sept. 11 issue of the BDN. Colgan noted that any effort to improve the economy of

Maine will require our state to attract more young people.

Will young families want to buy or build homes in Orono neighborhoods adjacent to a quarry? Will they invest in property where a quarry and a stone crushing operation might be established next door? Will they want to live in a town that would allow a quarry to operate adjacent to a National Natural Landmark — the Orono Bog Boardwalk?

I welcome you to join me at upcoming town meetings where we can ask our civic leaders these and other important questions.

Ed Ashworth



Quality of life

Camden’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances were adopted after countless hours of hard work by many dedicated residents. Article II of the zoning ordinance states: “This ordinance … is designed to encourage the most appropriate use of land throughout the Town; to promote the Town’s Comprehensive Plan; to foster a pattern of development that respects both village and the rural landscape while discouraging “sprawl”; to protect existing neighborhoods.”

The zoning structure strikes a balance of land use among all the elements of small town life: residential and cultural areas, commercial areas and access to the special areas of natural beauty.

“There is no finer creation than the New England village. It is a testament to the livable community – a community of neighborhoods, churches, shops and town hall,” said Sen. Angus King.

We are now in the process of updating our comprehensive plan. It is a process of considering and balancing priorities and enhancing the quality of life for our residents. In this plan for the future, we will again consider changes to the direction for the town’s development and then consider changes to zoning that might be needed within the context of the plan.

This is not the time to sacrifice the balance in our town and our quality of life for the sake of opportunistic commercial gain for a few or to preempt the planning process by an exceptional decision to recommend consideration of spot zoning to the select board.

Don Abbott



Place to retire

Richard H. Campbell’s OpEd, ” Celebrate Maine as a Great Place to Retire” in the Sept. 13 edition of the BDN, contained some pertinent observations regarding the benefits of retiring in Maine.

We were drawn to coastal Maine by its natural beauty and retired here from Massachusetts over eight years ago. Our life here has been peaceful and rewarding, but taxes will eventually result in our return to Massachusetts. The problem for us, as it is for many retirees, is that taxes on our retirement income and home increase annually, while our pensions remain fixed.

Add understandable cost of living increases to the mix, and we eventually will have to return to our former state where our pensions will be tax free and our property taxes less.

Retirees have much to offer to a community in terms of knowledge and skills. Additionally, their presence can be a boon to local economies.

If the Legislature would address these issues by at least lowering the percentage of taxes on pensions and considering the possibility of freezing property taxes after age 65, more people would see retiring here as a desirable and viable reality.

Rebecca H. Lajoie



Department cutting

I am a University of Southern Maine alumni, and I am writing in response to the recent decision to dissolve the USM department of physics. I find the actions USM has taken to be abhorrent. I graduated from USM with a minor in physics, and I was constantly impressed with how a department consisting of four faculty members managed to find the resources, time and energy to serve so many students with so little appreciation and support from USM.

It was an absolute privilege to study with the faculty of the physics department, of which are among the most intelligent, dedicated and passionate people that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Although I did not major in physics, I can say without a doubt that my experiences in that department helped to shape the scientist I am today. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in theoretical chemistry, and my decision to enter such a difficult field was highly motivated by my experiences with the USM department of physics.

Enrollment in the physical sciences will always be lower in comparison to other majors – these are extremely difficult subjects. But a university (of all places) should never discourage scientific inquiry. Since USM serves the most populated region of Maine, it has a responsibility to the community to provide a diverse education. Perhaps if USM wants to save money, it should cut back on administrator salaries rather than cutting departments.

Jessica Barilone


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