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Town Council Minutes 06/13/2017

South Berwick
Town Council Meeting
June 13, 2017

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

Approval of Minutes

1. Council 05-09-17:  On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. James, it was unanimously voted to adopt the minutes as written.

2. Council Special Meeting 05-30-17:  On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. James, 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 05-23-17 in the amount of $369,880.61.

2. On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to sign the warrant dated 06-07-17 in the amount of $299,672.10.

Reports and Presentations

Ken Weston of the “Shoe Town” group provided a power point presentation a “Cummings Mills Park Redevelopment Project”.  The project is intended to retain the green space on Norton Street utilizing funds from grants donations and sponsorships to develop the perceived potential for multi-generational, multi-purpose co-location of healthy resources and “aging in place”.  There is discussion of Farmers Markets and possible gardens and cooperating with the existing Food Pantry for the “food insecure”.  There is talk of partnering with the neighboring healthcare facilities for walking paths and walking programs.  At present, there are professional partners with shared interest with this group which is not yet affiliated with a 501c3.  The group applied for but was denied a grant from the EPA “Healthy Places for Healthy People”.  They were allegedly told that they should focus on the economic growth for the community and request a letter of support from local government to be considered for this grant in the future.  There are concerns with the project for the Council including size of events, any permanent fixture, and continued conversation of parking issue etc.  This is still listed as a potential site for the new police station pending further research into Farmgate.  The idea has a sound foundation but requires much more before it could be facilitated.  Mr. James brought up that in the past there was the toddler playground that was supported by a small group who eventually disbanded leaving the cost of maintenance to the Town.  Any development or project on this open space needs to have the support of the Town in its entirety and not just by a select group. The Council will schedule a workshop to discuss this matter more thoroughly.

Public Comment

1. Carolyn Mathews of 140 Thurrell Road commented on the road work and tree work completed on Thurrell Road.  She was asked to stop she has retained legal counsel on this matter.  Further discussion must have the presence of both her attorney and the Town attorney.

Town Manager’s Report

-Notified those present of the invalidity of online sites for burn permits.  Burn permits must be obtained through the state or a local official.
-The York County tax assessment is increasing 1.64% for tax year 2018 in part due to the center for addiction project.  The meeting regarding this budget is Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 6:30pm in the York Emergency Management Building.  

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Mr. Kareckas added that residents should involve themselves in this matter and call our representatives as the state is not supporting this financial burden which will continue to raise tax cost to the taxpayers.
-There is a merger between Fairpoint Communications and Consolidated Communications residents need to be aware of.
-The Police Department received a safety grant toward the purchase of up to five new ballistic vests which will be purchased late July.
-The Town Manager and his Executive Assistant are working on the Employee Handbook which should be ready for Council by the July 11, 2017 meeting.  This is intended to replace Chapter 31 of the South Berwick Code Book which would subsequently be removed.
-Perry is attending the School Board Collaboration Meeting and Southern Maine Planning Board Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 and then the HR Conference with his Assistant on Thursday, June 15, 2017 in Waterboro.
-There are several legal matters pending currently with nothing to share currently in this meeting.

Unfinished Business

1. Perry spoke to the research on the Farmgate site for the new location of the Police Station.  The Norton Street site continues to be problematic with the cost of lease buyout, moving and re-establishing the tennis court which has about the same size footprint as the necessary station requirements not to mention the public interest of the ShoeTown group in the Green Space.

Farmgate was established in about 1983 with a requirement of 20,000 feet of open space.  It was built in 1986 when the ruling had become 30,000 square feet.  The original plan called for 24 units but that number increased to 34.

After speaking to the Town attorney, the Town will hopefully have a more definitive answer for the next meeting on June 27, 2017.  The attorney feels this may be a feasible solution and seems to hold the highest value with regard to location.  It would not be visible from units sitting low to the road and be in full visual of two of the highest risk areas of accidents on 236 as it would overlook Academy Street and Old Mill.

Pat Durkin of 2A Brattle Street spoke to the absolute need of the Police Department for a larger space to accommodate them as the space they are currently in initially held two (2) full time officers and now hosts 8 full time not including part time staff, dispatchers and administrative.  She recommends the Farmgate location.

Amanda Donovan requested that a microphone be used for future meetings.

Carin Lee of 19 Young Street asked if Town Hall would be moving with PD.  The Council responded that at this time that is not part of any consideration.  She then asked if the Fire Chief had concerns about the parking on Norton Street.  This has been discussed several times and yes.  The parking in front of the playground in the Fire Station lot is marked “authorized only”.  The parking for the playground will potentially move over to the dead-end road side of Goodwin Street for access.

Sherry Debary of York has a son who lives in Farmgate and asked if there was a timeline for the relocation of the Police Department.  The answer is that it is planned to be in the 2020 budget year.  Perry explained that the new location would use only about an acre and a half and not be visible to the Farmgate community.

Ken Weston of 19 Spring Street asked if there was another revised plan for the Norton Street location that he might not have seen as some of the visuals are not clear on the monitor when watching from home.  There are four options but no set plan.  The Town is trying to make the least amount of impact and has researched and exhausted all Town owned property and even a location on Rt. 4 in Berwick which would have had tax implications.  

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Mr. Kareckas explained that we are only about 2% into the development process until we secure the correct location.

Mr. Ellsworth reiterated that this has been a tedious and difficult process such as the case when there is a need like this one.  We have done due diligence in researching all possible options and continue to set our sights on 2020 for building.  The Town is working hard to accommodate everyone.

Mr. James stepped up to include that at this point, we need to secure the site location and have the vote on the ballot in November. He was adamant that it is crucial to the Department that we stop procrastinating and move this process forward.  We will not please everyone.  We just need to determine the mindset of the majority.  This needs to move forward.  The Council and Town Manager voiced agreement to this comment.

Pat Durkin again spoke to being in favor of the project, of the Farmgate site, and her conviction that others in that community would also support this location.

New Business

1. On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to approve signing the Valic deferred compensation plan reinstatement.

2. On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mr. Kareckas, it was unanimously voted to renew the Links at outlook Golf Club liquor license & special amusement permit.  Ms. Leber abstained from voting.

3. The Library Advisory Board is requesting a change to the By-Laws to remove verbiage limiting the term for which members can serve.  This requires further discussion with the Librarian and with the Town Clerk.  Discussion temporarily tabled.

4. A discussion was had regarding Marijuana Growth and Sales including an emergency pre-amble and moratorium.

  • Perry read the pre-amble and moratorium that will be presented for the next Council meeting.
  • Sherry DeBary of York stated that her younger brother benefited from medical cannabis for nausea before passing from cancer.  Her friend now has stage four and is benefiting from the marijuana candies to help her sleep.    She states that Portland is very well regulated.
  • Pat Durkin feels that the presence of marijuana in any case can influence the drug trade and that we have a responsibility to regulate.
  • Sam Murray of 241 Emery Bridge Road asked if the Police have had input into this.  He is not for or against marijuana per se but is in favor of the moratorium.  He also asked if the Town would be at risk of losing Federal funds if we act in favor of what is federally illegal still.  He mentioned in zoning that if it is not listed, it is not legal in this Town.
  • Steve Bayse of 160 Ogunquit Road stated that he has two medical processing plants across from his house, not greenhouse as listed in table A but 2 large enclosed buildings on a 40-acre lot that are processing the plants into oils.  He was hoping the code enforcement officer would have been present for the discussion to respond to how this was approved and explain the zoning to those present.  He stated that there are two other growth facilities already in Town and asked the Council to be aware of what is going on.  He stated that he was informed that his property has a 10% loss in value and wonders what will become of the acreage around him.  He mentioned the smell and the noise problems as well.  He wondered if there was any benefit to the town like taxation of the business equipment and components inside.  He is willing to participate in any workshop or program as the Town deals with this issue.  He feels that each part of this be looked at separately, growing, distributing, changing into oil, packaging etc.  Mr. Kareckas stated that the CEO does have the authority to make the decision and that matters of land value etc. requires legal advice that he suggested Mr. Bayse look into.
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  • Mr. Ellsworth again stated that the next meeting would again have this issue on the agenda and have the emergency preamble and moratorium.
  • Gary Trull of Goodwin Street complained of the smell and noise near his friend’s house near a grow house (not in Town).  That there are 14-hour work days, traffic, smell and noise.  He said this is a bedroom community and we don’t need it.
2. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Ms. Leber, it was unanimously voted to accept the Town Manager’s performance evaluation.

3. Mr. Abell stated that the two years makes it feasible for both sides to conduct business and have a fair amount of time to replace the Manager should he decide to retire or in the unlikely event the Council chooses a different path.  He credited Mr. Ellsworth for the budget and financial position of the Town, his leadership of the Administrative team and the Town employees, his ability to maneuver around many difficult issues and projects with ease and skill and more.  On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to approve the Town Manager’s performance evaluation and the extension of his contract to 06-30-2019.

4. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Ms. Leber, it was unanimously voted to move $9,500 from the undesignated fund to account #4115-1000 to pay the Town Manager a bonus of $9,500 in the next pay period

5. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Ms. Leber, it was unanimously voted to transfer $9,500 from the undesignated fund to the Fire Department account #4220-1040 to cover increased funding due to volume of calls.

Councilor Comments

Mr. James thanked Mr. Ellsworth and the Public Works department for fixing the wire to the sign at the ballfield before the big tournament this weekend.  He further stated he may be unavailable for the next meeting but supports the moratorium.

Mr. Kareckas mentioned the gathering for former Councilor David Burke’s passing.  


On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Ms. Leber, it was unanimously voted to adjourn the meeting at 8:39pm.


Deanna Remick
Administrative Assistant