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Woodstock voters debate, approve ordinances  

Credit:  By ALISON ALOISIO, The Bethel Citizen, www.bethelcitizen.com 29 March 2012 ~~

After much discussion, the 80 voters at Monday’s Woodstock town meeting passed four new ordinances, one of which squeaked by with only a five-vote margin.

Residents also approved all the money articles on the warrant.

A proposal for an occupancy certificate for new homes and buildings prompted much debate.

Planning Board Chairman Tom Hartford said he wrote the ordinance in response to requests from banks and insurance companies who had been requesting such documents in recent years.

He noted that the town has not adopted the state’s building code, and the town code enforcement officer does not inspect buildings.

Hartford said he didn’t want it to place any more restrictions on property owners than the town currently requires. So the certificate calls for a signature from the property owner verifying that town requirements, such as setbacks, septic plan and house numbering have been met.

For businesses, the owner must additionally state that county, state and federal requirements have been met.

But a few residents worried that would put undue liability on the property owner. They also felt the wording implied homeowners must also verify that county, state and federal requirements be met.

Some suggested the town attorney review the proposed certificate before the town approved it, and find ways for the CEO to aid homeowners in the certificate completion process.

But the permit was eventually approved in a written ballot, 41-36.

Also drawing significant discussion was a Quiet Zone ordinance proposal, prompted by complaints about the use of truck “jake brakes” in Bryant Pond Village.

Jan Kendrick, who requested the ordinance, said she was mostly concerned about trucks that are “excessively loud,” but did not want to stop the use of the brakes in safety situations.

“We’re just trying to say, ‘please respect the quiet,’” she said.

Other village residents said they believed some truckers used the brakes even when they are not needed. Motorcycles were also mentioned as a source of significant noise.

The ordinance passed by a show of hands, with some opposed. “Quiet Zone” signs will be placed in the village.

Also approved was an ordinance establishing a one-year moratorium on wind power projects, while a town committee crafts an ordinance.

Bob Elliot of the committee said members wished to have the time to get feedback on the new Spruce Mountain LLC project. He said that since the project went online in December, the group has been receiving input from residents. Most of the concerns related to noise and visual impact, he said, and the possible effect on property values.

Several people at the meeting were also happy to provide feedback.

Gary Kendall, who lives about a mile away said that in the winter, when the leaves are off the trees, he “can hear it pretty good.”

And, said Jan Mayes, “It sounds like a jet that never finishes going by your house.”

The fourth ordinance approved was a ban on the sale of consumer fireworks, but not the use. The state Legislature last year legalized such fireworks, but left towns the option of banning them within their borders.

Hartford again took the floor, this time to explain the proposal from the Fire Department. He said the WFD does not have the resources to monitor the sale of fireworks, but firefighters accept the reality of the their use.

“They had been used all over the state when they were illegal,’ said Hartford. “For us to say ‘no’ is basically a joke. So we say, ‘yes, – continue to use them, enjoy them, but we aren’t interested in selling them in town.’”

He said fireworks are used regularly by people in his neighborhood.

Hartford also cautioned residents that some fireworks purchased in New Hampshire may not be legal under Maine law. The Woodstock ordinance also follows state law by prohibiting use by people under 21, and restricts use to certain hours.

Other articles

On the recommendation of selectmen, voters turned down an article requesting the town open a 1.3-mile section of the Billings Hill Road for winter maintenance. The article was requested by three year-round residents, Town Manager Vern Maxfield said. The residents themselves currently handle plowing.

But, said Selectman Steve Bies, “this is an extremely expensive article.” He said the road would likely have to be rebuilt in order for a plow to operate effectively.

“There’s not much room to get rid of snow,” said Selectman Rick Young.

Among the large money articles approved were $113,972 for administrative expenses; $55,000 for operation of the Fire Department; $50,000 for a squad truck for the WFD; $50,000 for the Municipal Utilities Account; $160,000 for Capital Reserve (including $100,000 toward fixing the Lake Christopher dam); $124,650 for insurance (down $6,000 from last year); and $100,000 for the Transfer Station (down $12,000 from last year).

Bies said Transfer Station costs were down in part because it has been operating successfully without a manager for the past year. He said there may be other cost savings in the future, as towns in the region explore the possibility of joint purchasing of tipping and hauling services for trash.

In municipal elections, incumbents Selectman Rick Young, SAD 44 Director Sheryl Morgan and Whitman Library Trustee Stacey Millett were returned to office unopposed for three-year terms.

The meeting was moderated by Steve Wight.

Source:  By ALISON ALOISIO, The Bethel Citizen, www.bethelcitizen.com 29 March 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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