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Town Council Minutes 04/25/2017

South Berwick
Town Council Meeting
April 25, 2017

The Town Manager reported the following to the Clerk:

Chairman Russell H. Abell called the meeting to order at 6:17pm.  Councilors present included John C. Kareckas and Thomas Chase.  Town Manager Perry A. Ellsworth was also in attendance.  Mrs. Leber arrived during the executive session.  John James was not present.

Executive Session

1. On a motion by Mr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Kareckas, it was unanimously voted to enter executive session at 6:17pm pursuant to 1MRSA §405.6A, to conduct interviews with prospective board and committee members.  

On a motion by Mr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Kareckas, it was unanimously voted to end the executive session at 6:30pm.

The regular meeting reconvened at 6:35pm with the Clerk present.

Approval of Minutes

1. Public Hearing 4-11-17:  On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mrs. Leber, it was unanimously voted to adopt the minutes as written.

2. Council 04-11-17:  On a motion by Mrs. Leber, 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 Mrs. Leber, it was unanimously voted to sign the warrant dated April 19, 2017 in the amount of $217,700.42.

Public Comment

1. Richard Hayes, property owner on Knight’s Pond, addressed the Council with concerns regarding the Zoning Ordinance restriction on the length of cul-de-sac roads.  He stated that the 600’ restriction has made his property undevelopable and he is unable to sell the property.

Mr. Ellsworth commented that he has spoken with Mr. Hayes and there are a number of proposed changes to the ordinance being discussed.  He anticipates having amendments for the Council throughout the summer.

Town Manager’s Report

-SafeWise has updated South Berwick to the 9th safest town in Maine.
-Provided each Councilor with a draft copy of the town report and asked that it be proof read before Friday, so it can be submitted to the printer.
-Provided an updated budget package.
-Currently reviewing the new contract with York Ambulance.  It is a three-year contract and is $5,000 higher than last year.  Language regarding the use of our Fire Department is included.
-The Eastern Trail annual meeting is May 11th.
-The Shoetown group will be making a presentation at an upcoming meeting.
-Made note that a number of ordinances need updating, including Zoning, Parking Permits and the Personnel Policy.
-Will need to schedule a Vaughan Fund meeting.
-Still need to complete the Manager’s performance evaluation.

Unfinished Business

1. The Council discussed the proposed change to A158 Tax Acquired Property Policy.  

On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to amend Chapter A158, §2, by adding new subsection (5) to read “The Town may choose to donate3 or sell tax acquired property for up to or less than its current assessed value to a qualified conservation organization, as described in IRC Section 170(h), whose core mission includes the conservation and stewardship of land in perpetuity”.


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2. The Council discussed possible sites for the police station.  Mr. Ellsworth made note that he and Mike Lassel have looked at four more properties.  Each property considered seems to come with its own set of roadblocks.  One of the properties being considered is located on Route 236.  The owner of the property has not been contacted so more information will come later.

New Business

1. On a motion by Mrs. Leber, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to adopt the FY 2017/2018 budget and sign the warrant calling the town meeting on May 23rd.

2. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to appoint Jaime Dusseault to the Conservation Commission with a term to expire June 30, 2017.

On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mrs. Leber, it was unanimously voted to appoint Marc Alterio to the Historic District Commission with a term to expire June 30, 2018.

Mr. Kareckas made note that members are needed for the planning board.  He emphasized the important role the board plays in the development of the town.

Mr. Ellsworth noted that he did receive two applications for the planning board, however, one applicant was not able to make the meeting and the other applicant appears to be better suited for a different board.

3. The Council discussed the request from the Historic District Commission.  The HDC has been working on an application to have the Quamphegan Landing Village District listed in the National Register of Historic places.  Much of the research is complete but additional information and updated photos are required for the application.  Also, a consultant is needed to finalize and make application to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.  Funding is needed to hire the consultant.  Several amounts were discussed with some confusion as to how much was actually needed.

Dan Boyle and Mary Vaughan of the HDC were present to give an overview of the process and answer questions.  Mr. Boyle made note of the fact that inclusion in the National Register places no restrictions on property owners.  Inclusion does have benefits such as qualifying for grants and tax credits for preservation and rehabilitation of properties.  He stated that he believed the HDC was looking for $2500.

Mr. Kareckas asked if the residents in the proposed district had been contacted.  Mr. Boyle stated that they had not.  Mr. Kareckas strongly urged the HDC to do so.  Mr. Abell added that it is always best to get as much information out earlier in the process to avoid problems later.

Mr. Ellsworth received clarification that the HDC is asking the Town to be the fiscal agent.

Mrs. Leber stated that she did not believe this would be an appropriate use of town money.  What benefit is it to the other areas of town?  

-James Flynn, Main St, stated that he is currently benefiting from the program with tax credits for rehabilitating a property in the existing district.  He added that we have a unique village and people come here for that reason.  It would be an investment in the future.
-Marc Scheele, Main St, stated that for him it would mean being able to use the credits toward higher quality upgrades.  It would also help keep the character of the neighborhood and save some houses from being demolished and replaced with new construction.
-Jean Demetracopoulos, Oldfields Rd, commented that one of South Berwick’s core values has always been preserving our history.
-Mike Lassel, Paul St, stated that the investment gets paid back in several ways; buildings are improved, higher property values and tax revenues for the town, and the town looks better, which attracts more visitors.
-Catherine Allen, York Woods Rd, commented that such a small upfront investment is worth the long-term gains.

Mr. Abell in summary stated that the issue would be placed on the next agenda for action.  It is expected that the HDC will have a defined proposal of exactly what is needed.


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4. The Council discussed the draft letter of support for the York River Study Committee grant application.  There would be no cost to the town.

On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mrs. Leber, it was unanimously voted to sign the letter of support for the York River Study Group grant application.

5. The Council discussed the proposal, by an ad hoc committee, to establish a sister community program with Tuskegee Alabama.  

Support for the initiative was received from Julia Ouellette a former resident, read a letter from David McDermott of Bennett Lot Rd, Scott McPhedran of Sewall Rd, read a letter from Librarian Karen Eger, the Town Manager read an email from former State Rep Bobbi Beavers, and Joe Long of Earl’s Rd.  The program would foster a sister city relationship and provide for educational opportunities for all ages.

Mr. Kareckas questioned the use of the name Sister City.  He expressed his concern that we may become part of something that was not intended.  It was agreed that using lower case would be appropriate.

Amy Miller of Highland Ave, commented that the Sister City Program is international.  We would be the first program with the US.  

On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to endorse the proclamation.

Councilor Comments

1. Mrs. Leber:
-Commented that it is her favorite time of year.

2. Mr. Kareckas:
-Made note of the April 2017 Maine Townsmen article regarding the use of interns.  The municipal workforce is ‘graying’ and the use of interns is a great way to introduce and encourage younger people to get involved.  It also provides a means of passing on institutionalized knowledge.  Mr. Ellsworth added that Public Works took on an intern last summer to work on the storm water management project.  It was a win-win for everyone.

Adjournment

On a motion by Mrs. Leber, seconded by Mr. Kareckas, it was unanimously voted to adjourn the meeting at 8:11pm.


Attest:


Barbara Bennett, CCM