Eustis Annual Town Meeting and Election

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EUSTIS – The annual town meeting took place Saturday, March 4, in the midst of a heavy snow storm. Around 20 residents turned out for the meeting despite the weather, with another half-dozen town officials in attendance.

The annual elections took place the day before, on Friday, March 3. Linda Marzelli and Carol Sherrier were elected for two select board positions, with 24 votes each. Sarah Strunk remains on the school board with 29 votes. Jeff Brickley with 29 votes, and Dwight Gellman with 25 votes, will both continue to serve on the planning board.

Saturday morning the gathered voters addressed the ‘housekeeping’ articles, numbered 3-10, as a slate. These articles allow the town officials to conduct certain orders of business without the need for a special town meeting; for example, Article 5 allows the select board and the treasurer to sell or dispose of real estate that the town acquires through non-payment of taxes.

Articles 11 through 21 were to transfer funds from one account to another, to carry funds over from the previous year to the current year, and to allow for funds remaining in specific accounts to roll over into the respective accounts at the end of the fiscal year. This allows funds already designated for certain purposes, such as the maintenance of the Municipal Building or the town recreation funds, to remain available in those accounts rather than lapsing back into the ‘general fund’ if the funds have not been spent at the end of the year.

There was minimal discussion over the funds raised for the annual operating budget, which was approved at $1,355,420. This was an increase of $111,776 over last year’s budget at $1,243,644.

Last year the town approved using the American Rescue Plan Act funds towards an expansion of the food pantry. The project was not completed, so the funds had to be re-approved towards the same project. Eustis will use $63,498.95 in ARPA funds, along with funds the food pantry has saved, towards the total cost of the project.

Residents reviewed and approved an updated Cemetery Ordinance. This updated ordinance more clearly defines the restricted activities in the cemeteries, includes dates for the removal of summer and winter decorations, and clearly outlines the burial season. It also includes guidelines for purchases of multiple burial lots and for cemetery lot ownership determination.

Finally, the town reviewed a proposed rezoning of a handful of property lots from resource protection wetland zoning to limited residential shoreland zones. This allows correction of a perceived ‘unfairness’, Code Enforcement Officer Peter Farnsworth said. Several lots in this area have houses or camps that were built before the area was zoned as resource protection in the late 1980s, but property owners who hold vacant lots are not allowed to build on their lots even though their neighbors have camps. By changing the zoning, this would allow property owners to build if they desired to do so.

This warrant article generated some discussion but was subsequently approved by the voters.

The Department of Environmental Protection issued an order to allow for the change in the ordinance, which the residents also approved.

After swearing-in the two new select board members, the town meeting adjourned.

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