Sangerville rejects zoning guidelines

Posted March 27, 2010, at 3:20 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:02 p.m.

SANGERVILLE, Maine — Residents on Saturday elected two selectmen, learned that the town manager had submitted his resignation, and voted to reject new Maine Department of Environmental Protection guidelines.

Town Manager Joe Clark’s resignation, effective April 9, came as a surprise to many residents. Clark, who was hired in 2008, said he was resigning for personal reasons.

In a town peppered with wetlands, a sea of about 130 hands went into the air at the annual town meeting to reject the latest amended guidelines for the shoreland zoning ordinance proposed by the DEP.

Planning board Chairman Jerry Peters said the proposed changes were supposed to have been approved by the town in 2008 but the board did not get the large green booklet containing the changes from the state until late 2007. The state then extended the deadline for approval to July 2009.

If the town does not adopt the amended guidelines, referred to at times Saturday as a “land grab” and “green monster,” the state may impose them, but residents wanted to send a clear message to state officials of their concern.

Peters said Sangerville is surrounded by water. “We feel that our community is unique and we have a lot of impacted area,” he told residents.

Individually, the planning board members had a variety of concerns, according to Peters, including the fact that the Resource Protection District was enlarged, yet the town had not received a map from the DEP to identify the affected areas in the General Development and Timber Harvesting districts. In addition, the board be-lieves the changes make it more restrictive for landowners who won’t enjoy the benefits they once had, and that its enforcement will be costly for the town.

“I think we do a pretty good job policing ourselves,” Tom Carone, a planning board member and newly elected selectman, said Saturday. Holding up the proposed guidelines, Carone said any farmer, logger or landowner in Sangerville, or in any other town for that matter, could possibly be affected by the new guidelines. “It’s every town’s problem.”

After much discussion, residents voted to demolish the former Abbie Fowler Elementary School and turn the grounds into green space. The town has been leasing out space in the building, but the proceeds were not enough to cover expenses, so taxpayers were subsidizing its operation.

In a vote of 64-36, residents showed their support for converting the town’s budget from a calendar year of Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 to a fiscal year of July 1 to June 30 when school and county costs are known. If selectmen vote later to make the change, the town will adopt an 18-month budget in 2011 to begin the conversion and residents will receive a tax bill for that 18-month period.

In other action, Lance Burgess won the selectmen’s seat held by Charles Cleaves. Burgess received 82 votes and Cleaves 52 votes. Carone won the remaining one-year term on the Board of Selectmen left by the resignation of Len Nilson. Carone received 65 votes, Cleaves received 43 votes, and Brent Randall received 27 votes.

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