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Town Council Minutes 02/14/2017

South Berwick
Town Council Meeting
February 14, 2017

Chairman Russell H. Abell called the meeting to order at 6:30pm.  Councilors present included John C. Kareckas, John James, and Thomas Chase.  Town Manager Perry A. Ellsworth was also in attendance.  Mrs. Leber arrived at 6:35pm.

Approval of Minutes

1. Council 01-24-17:  On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to adopt the minutes as written.

Treasurer’s Warrant

1. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. James, it was unanimously voted to sign the warrant dated February 8, 2017 in the amount of $874,839.63.  Mr. Kareckas made note that the monthly school payment of $635,442.11 was included.

Reports & Presentations

1. Bobbi Stormann made a presentation to the Council regarding the establishment of a marijuana cultivation business in town.  She and her husband envision moving back to Maine to own and operate a mid-size cannabis farm.  Mrs. Stormann briefly explained the licensing process and the plans they have to establish the facility, including 24-hr security measures.  She added that once a license is obtained from the state, the licensee has 90 days to receive municipal approval or the license would be rescinded.

Mr. Kareckas commented that the Council is in a ‘wait-n-see’ status, based on how the state proceeds.  He stated that he felt it was premature to issue any endorsements.

Mr. Abell questioned the size of the property needed and the potential impacts on others.  Mrs. Stormann responded that they are looking for a property of about 20 acres, which would allow for expansion (of other crops and animals).  Mrs. Stormann added that the commercial greenhouses are designed to minimize the impact of light and odor.

The Council thanked Mrs. Stormann for her presentation.

2. Mr. Ellsworth provided the Council with a copy of the letter he received from Kennebunk Investment Services.  The ownership of the Investment Services division through LPL Financial has been transferred from Kennebunk Savings Bank to Ryan Hale.  [Kennebunk Investment Services handles the portfolio for the Vaughan Fund]

Public Comment


Town Manager’s Report

-The Valentine Dance was well attended with 244 participants.
-We are still dealing with First Responder issues with York Ambulance.  Our Fire Dept. helped 58 times last year, without being covered by our insurance.  It has been verified with legal that we cannot continue to operate as we have due to liability issues.  York Ambulance will hire some of our firefighters and issue pagers to those that would respond to a call.  The MOU will not be enough; the contract will have to be revamped.  Will be meeting with Dover, NH officials to discuss mutual aid.  Policies and protocols must be developed.
-Reminder - The school collaboration meeting will be here on Wednesday morning.  Several new bus stops have been established to help mitigate the traffic issue created by the number of cars entering/leaving Central School.  Changes may be made to the procedure for allowing egress from the parking lot.  Sidewalk plowing is also an issue.
-Our salt supply is running low.  We will use the entire budget this year.
-Budget work continues.  We should stay below the LD1 cap.
-The MMA Legislative Policy Committee meeting for Thursday has been postponed.
-The audit is complete.  We are in good shape.  The undesignated fund balance is about $3-$3.6 million.  We need to establish a fraud prevention policy and update the personnel policy.

TC 02-14-17

Unfinished Business

1. The Council discussed the request from the Conservation Commission to revise the Tax Acquired Property Policy, Code Chapter A158.  The Commission (Pat Robinson and Karen Young were present) has asked the Council to consider adding a clause that would allow for the sale or donation of land for permanent conservation.  Mr. Ellsworth commented that he didn’t feel the additional language was necessary.  It would certainly need to be revised.  Both Mr. Abell and Mr. Kareckas agreed that the language would need a “little wordsmithing”.

On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mrs. Leber, it was unanimously voted to move forward with a second reading after the language is revised.

2. The Council discussed the pros and cons of the potential site for the new Police Station on Route 4 in Berwick.  The site has a number of positives, but consensus of the Council was that paying upwards of $40,000 in property taxes to Berwick was a big negative.

For the sake of disclosure, Mr. Kareckas read an email that he had sent to other Councilors, regarding his thoughts on the site.

Dispatching and the potential for consolidation with Berwick are significant factors to consider.

Consensus of the Council was to authorize the Manager to meet with Phoenix Management (formerly Cummings Mill, LLC) to discuss the lease agreement, and to continue discussions with Berwick regarding police and dispatch services.

3. The Council briefly discussed the list of Council objectives submitted by Councilor Kareckas at the last meeting.  Mr. Ellsworth made note that he had not received any suggested changes from the other Councilors.  Mr. Kareckas stated that revision of the Personnel Policy should be added.

New Business

1. On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to grant a Solid Waste Hauler License to Jayco Disposal to expire January 31, 2018.

2. On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mrs. Leber, it was unanimously voted to adopt and sign the 2015 updated version of the York County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Councilor Comments

Each Councilor in turn praised the highway crew for its efforts during the recent storm.  They are doing a great job.  Each Councilor also wished everyone a happy Valentine’s Day.

1. Mr. Kareckas:
-Thanked the Manager for the appropriations letter.
-Asked about the deadline for submitting grant applications from the Vaughan Fund.  Mr. Ellsworth stated that the deadline is March 1st.  He added that because of the Fund’s performance, there are no funds for disbursement this year.

2. Mr. Abell:
-Made note that he attended his last father/daughter dance this past weekend.  It is always well attended.


On a motion by Mrs. Leber, seconded by Mr. James, it was unanimously voted to adjourn the meeting at 8:22pm.


Barbara Bennett, CCM