2017-04-07 / Community

News Briefs

MORATORIUM EXTENDED — Kennebunk Selectmen have extended the moratorium on marijuana retail establishments approved by town meeting Feb. 28 – and set to expire April 9 – an additional 180 days to Oct. 6.

The moratorium lets the town deny applications for marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, testing labs and social clubs, while it works to establish zoning regulations and licensing rules to govern the establishments.

“It’s not a small topic at all. It touches every service that we provide in the community,” board chairman Dick Morin said. The state is also working toward creating rules to govern sale of the substance, possession of which was legalized by a statewide referendum vote this past November and has adopted a moratorium of its own, delaying implementation of any new licensing regulations until Feb. 2018.

DONATIONS — Dog owners in Kennebunk now have a better chance of finding lost pets thanks to a donation from the Piscataqua Obedience Club.

The nonprofit dog-training club maintains a center in Kittery, but has members across southern Maine and seacoast New Hampshire, including Kennebunk residents Judy Coen and Mary Lou Nedeau.

At their urging, the club has donated a Datamars Compact Universal Microchip Scanner/Reader to the Kennebunk Police Department, to be used by the town’s animal control officer to identify lost dogs and cats that have been tagged with microchips, in an effort to reunite them with their owners.

The device has a retail value of about $250.

Selectman Ed Karytko has a more pressing question at the board’s March 28 meeting, at which his peers accepted the donation.

“Can you use these microchips when you go with your wife to the mall, so you can find her?” he asked.

At the same meeting, the board also accepted a $400 donation to the fire and rescue department, given by John White and Mary Daley.

RESIGNATION — Kennbunk’s public works department has lost one of its veteran employees, with Todd Toussaint calling it a career after nearly 27 years with the town. “During those years he has demonstrated excellent interpersonal and leadership skills,” Town Manager Mike Pardue said at the selectboard’s March 28 meeting. “Todd always brought a sense of humor to the job, while insuring the job was completed in a timely and professional manner.”

APPOINTMENTS — Kennebunk selectmen have filled all three vacancies on the town’s committee on aging, a new 11-person group created in May 2016 to gather information from seniors in town and entities interested in working on with them in order to advise the town on “issues of immediate concern.”

The board named Alfred Road resident Terrence Vaughan to a term expiring June 30, 2017, along with Susan Aubuchon of Cheshire Meadows until June 30, 2018, and Pat Schwebler of Florence Circle to June 30, 2019.

All of the appointees appear well-suited to the positions. Vaughan is a retiree herself and Aubuchon is a home care nurse for York Hospital, while Schwebler a 23-year resident of Kennebunk, has been director of the town’s senior citizen club, The Center, since January.

Selectmen also appointed Laura Snyder Smith to the downtown committee. Snyder Smith has been the marketing and events manager for the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport Arundel Chamber of Commerce since February 2015.

CONSENT AGREEMENT — Kennebunk selectmen have entered into a consent agreement with Medical Group LLL regarding a setback violation at its 3 Shape Drive property.

The building at that site was erected in the 1970s, but underwent a town site plan review during a 2004 expansion.

According to town code enforcement officer Paul Demers, the developer followed the plan “exactly.” However, when Medical Group had a property survey done this past December prior to placing the building on the market, it found three parking spots “encroached slightly” onto the Kennebunk’s right of way for Livewell Drive, which the town accepted as a public way in 2011, Demers said.

“What this essentially is, is professional differences between professional surveyors doing their job,” Demers said.

“The parking does not affect the operations or management of the public right-of-way,” Town Manager Mike Pardue said in his agenda memo to selectmen, adding that, “the nature of this issue suggests a fine is not warranted.”

Selectmen agreed.

The consent agreement says the town will refrain from taking legal action against Medical Group, while it, and any subsequent owner, will refrain from further development of the area in question, while maintaining the three parking spot “in good condition and repair.”

Medical Group and successive owners also are bound to hold the town harmless from any incident that may occur on the three parking spots.

“We’re not accepting responsibility for maintenance, for plowing, for anything,” selectboard chairman Dick Morin said. “This does not effectively change the use, all it’s changing is a line and business conducts there as it always has.”

BRIDGE REPLACEMENT — Kennebunk is getting $200,000 from the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to replace Pasture Bridge, which crosses Ward Brook on Emmons Road.

“This is a really good deal for the town, primarily because we own a wooden bridge that sees about 100 cars a day over it, so it’s a pretty low priority on our list, but there has been a lot development in that area recently,” the towns’ community development director, Chris Osterrieder, said at the March 28 selectmen’s meeting.

Because of that development, the bridge was reinforced to handle fire trucks and other emergency vehicles, but, Osterrieder said, “those improvements are not permanent” and the bridge is currently posted to a weight limit.

Although it is a town-owned bridge, it could be closed at any time under the Federal Bridge Inspection process, which already has found the span wanting “in several areas.”

“This was going to happen sooner or later,” Osterreider said.

According to Osterrieder, the most recent estimate pegged a full bridge replacement at $358,000.

The town set aside $175,000 for the work as part of the 2015-2016 annual budget. With the MDOT grant, made under its Low Use Redundant Bridge program, all costs should be covered.

Osterrieder said the work should be done sometime this summer. Because of restrictions set by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on working within the stream, as well as disturbing trees that serve as habitat for bats, all work must be done between July 1 and Oct. 1, he said. The town will bid the work out to a private contractor.

Selectmen voted March 28 on a project agreement with MDOT, which has already reviewed and approved completed design plans for the new bridge. Selectman Ed Karytko could not resist a gentle jab at spending money on something deemed by state officials to be “redundant.”

“I think we should just close Emmons Road and be done with it,” he joked.

“Well, you would have some very unhappy taxpayers,” Osterrieder said.

NO PASSPORT — The Kennebunk town office stopped processing passports as of April 1.

“Looking at workflow processes, we identified the passports were serving as a bit of an impediment between the town clerk’s office and our tax collector’s office, being able to collaborate in work efforts, the reason being that if you have passports in one of those offices, the other can’t really mingle or collaborate with the other because of the access to vital records,” Town Manager Mike Pardue said at the March 28 board of selectmen meeting.

Passports are still available in Sanford, Springvale, Biddeford and the York County Courthouse, he said. Kennebunk was processing about 450 passports her year, but fewer than half of those people are generally Kennebunk residents. Pardue also said processing passports was a money losing proposition for the town. It takes in $25 for each passport, but each one also takes “about an hour” of staff time to prepare, he said.

SIGN OF THE TIMES — Kennebunk is currently replacing many of its street signs, and, so, has fielded numerous requests from residents hoping to obtain the sign for their street as a keepsake. According to Town Manager Mike Pardue, the town is holding on to those signs for now, but, contingent on a directive from selectmen, may allow them to purchase, by either selling them outright for an as-yet undetermined price, or offering them up in a charity auction.

POWER PROBLEMS — Allowing larger food trucks to station at the Waterhouse Center has come with an unanticipated technical hurdle. According to Town Manager Mike Pardue, two of the new trucks require 60 amp service, but the center is only wired for 30 amps. The town electrician has estimated it will cost about $5,000 for an upgrade. Selectmen are expected to decide on where to procure those funds at their next meeting, April 11.

Compiled by Staff Writer Duke Harrington. He can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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