December 13, 2017
Piscataquis Latest News | Poll Questions | Closings, Cancellations and Delays | Roy Moore | Susan Collins

Dexter council extends east-west highway moratorium for 4th time

By Mike Lange, Piscataquis Observer
John Clarke Russ | BDN | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN | BDN
Cianbro Corp. chairman and CEO Peter Vigue with a map backdrop of the proposed east-west highway.

DEXTER, Maine — The Dexter Town Council has added another 180-day extension to an existing moratorium on construction of an east-west corridor through the community.

It was the fourth moratorium approved by the council and it also prompted some minor debate at the May 14 meeting. Councilor Alan Wintle introduced the resolution, but ultimately was the only member to vote against it.

Wintle questioned “what good it would do” to keep extending the moratorium while others countered that there was no harm in the legislation, either. “I don’t see the need to extend it unless there’s new information I’m unaware of,” said Wintle.

Town Manager Shelley Watson said that the town’s planning board was in the process of creating an ordinance that would address some of the concerns about the proposed highway and utilities transmission route. “In the meantime, it takes quite a while to get an ordinance passed — at least 90 days in most cases,” Watson said.

Councilor Fred Sherburne said he supported the extension because it would prevent the town from issuing any permits sought by the corridor principals “during that 180-day period. If we don’t do this, then if a permit is applied for … we have no control over it.”

Last month, the Dexter Town Council unanimously rejected a proposed Community Bill of Rights Ordinance, as most members agreed with a legal opinion that the measure would be unenforceable.

Although the proposed east-west highway was not specifically mentioned in the ordinance, the statute would have affected “any strip of land used for the specified and restricted purpose of building any multi-county private or public-private transportation and distribution corridor.”

The Dexter Planning Board is expected to take a second look at the rejected ordinance at its May 26 meeting to see if a less-complicated measure would meet legal scrutiny.

In other action at the May 14 meeting, councilors passed an ordinance to transfer $45,000 from the unreserved fund balance to the highway department overtime and motor fuel and lube accounts.

Watson said that the rough winter and prolonged cold snap took its toll on equipment and manpower. “This was the toughest winter I’ve seen in my 28 years with the town,” she said.

The town manager also said she has been fielding a record number of calls about the condition of dirt roads, but said the highway crew “is doing everything possible to keep roads passable. Once the frost is gone, measures will be taken to further address the road conditions.”

The council also appointed a 15-member Dexter Playground Committee, which has already been in existence for the past four years. But Watson explained that committees have to be “officially recognized by the council with an appointed chairman” to be covered by the municipal insurance policy.

They also endorsed a newly formed, 19-member Dexter Revitalization Committee.

 


Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like