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Chesterville holds annual town meeting

6 mins read
Residents attending the 2020 annual town meeting in Chesterville. The meeting was streamed on Facebook.

CHESTERVILLE – Residents recognized the contributions of one of their own, authorized the purchase of a fire truck and approved appropriating $300,000 for road projects at the annual town meeting Monday evening.

The meeting was held in the fire station, with chairs set apart and many attendees wearing masks. This year’s town report was dedicated to Glenda Barker, a Chesterville resident who has been active with local Granges and the Farmington Fair as well as the Franklin County and North Chesterville Extension Homemaker organizations. Barker also has helped organize local events, such as the town meeting suppers and Chesterville Fun Days events, as well as working as a ballot clerk. Speakers at the meeting included expressions of legislative sentiment read by Sen. Russell Black (R – Wilton) and Rep. Randall Hall (R – Wilton) and speakers on behalf of Granges and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Prior to the business portion of the meeting beginning, a motion was made to adjourn the meeting. Selectman Edward Hastings VI, serving as the meeting’s moderator, ruled that out of order but did accept a motion to recess the meeting until an unspecified date. Residents discussed the issue, with some arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic had rendered the budget recommended by selectmen and the Budget Committee obsolete. The motion to recess failed and the meeting proceeded.

Voters opted to approve a new Regular Land Use Ordinance by a written vote of 21 yes and 17 no. That ordinance builds upon a similar, recently-approved ordinance that generally falls in line with the state’s minimum requirements. One change, according to a public hearing on the matter held in January, would be providing the means to allow the town’s code enforcement officer to enter property with just cause as determined by the Board of Selectmen, rather than mandating landowner permission.

Other changes to the ordinance included allowing for the creation of back lots – lots without road frontage – and allowing for the construction of buildings within minimum setbacks assuming that an easement was obtained from the abutting landowner. The new ordinance also includes a grandfather provision for preexisting buildings requiring reconstruction or repair within a minimum setback, allowing them to be rebuilt within three years of removal.

A set of bylaws for the selectmen did not pass by a vote of 15 yes and 19 no.

Residents chose not to expend funds on the fire station roof – $23,450 and $21,365 were recommended by the board and Budget Committee respectively – after Fire Chief David Archer said that the expenditure could be passed over because the roof could wait a year.

Those at the meeting did approve having the town enter into a lease/purchase agreement not to exceed $155,000 to acquire a combination pumper/tanker. Voters also chose to not defer payment in a separate article, authorizing a payment of $18,432 in this fiscal year. A separate article authorized the sale of Engine 2 and the town’s tanker, depositing the revenue garnered through that sale in the Fire Department Capital Reserve account. Voters also removed $7,000 from the fire department’s budget – those funds were earmarked for fire truck-related repairs that were no longer necessary due to the new piece of equipment – leaving the budget at $38,745

Article 31 asked residents how much the town should raise and appropriate for capital road projects, with the selectmen and committee both recommending $262,300 and the Road Committee requesting $400,000. Voters came up from the recommendations, authorizing $300,000 to go toward projects along with the state’s Local Road Assistance Program funds as well as a carry-forward of $20,344.

Upon hearing that the annual Chesterville Days event would not be taking place this year, residents opted to raise no money for the celebration. The $1,483 left over from last year’s event will be carried forward for a hopeful return in 2021.

There was discussion about the town’s swim program, a $540 appropriation, but residents opted to leave those funds in the budget in case the program could move forward.

Selectmen were sworn in at the meeting, with Guy Iverson, Scott Gray and Linda Bauer as well as the incumbent Archer joining Tiffany Estabrook on the Selectboard. All four ran uncontested, although Stefanie Poulson did get 23 write-in votes for the three-year term that Iverson was elected to.

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