2018-06-22 / Front Page

Kennebunkport voters blitz through town meeting

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

Some of the 53 Kennebunkport residents gathered for the annual town meeting, held Saturday, June 16, at Kennebunkport Consolidated School, weigh in one of 43 warrant articles. The crowd took about 34 minutes to adopt a $7.08 municipal operating budget for the coming fiscal year that starts July 1. (Duke Harrington photo) Some of the 53 Kennebunkport residents gathered for the annual town meeting, held Saturday, June 16, at Kennebunkport Consolidated School, weigh in one of 43 warrant articles. The crowd took about 34 minutes to adopt a $7.08 municipal operating budget for the coming fiscal year that starts July 1. (Duke Harrington photo) KENNEBUNKPORT — Voters in Kennebunkport may have set a record this past Saturday, June 16, as they took just 34 minutes, from the call to order to the motion for adjournment, to breeze through 44 warrant articles at their annual town meeting, on the way toward adopting a $7.08 municipal operating budget for the coming fiscal year, to start July 1.

Fifty-three people attended the session, held in the Kennebunkport Consolidated School gymnasium. All articles passed without comment or question from the audience.

“I think it just speaks to the job the budget board and the selectmen do in advance that allows the town meeting to go so smoothly,” Town Manager Laurie Smith said after the meeting.

The work of those who attended town meeting added $55,852 to the Kennebunkport’s annual operating budget, while lowering the capital improvements spending plan by $5,250.

The new budget also anticipates a $66,975 (2.27 percent) reduction in non-property tax revenue, such as from vehicle excise taxes and revenue sharing, derived from a portion of state sales taxes. While the final mil rate will not be set until August, once state property value numbers and other factors are finalized, Smith estimated the new voter-approved bud- get will add 4.5 cents to the town portion of local property tax bills.

That’s a 1.48 percent increase, to $3.01 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The median single-family home in Kennebunkport, assessed at $300,000, can expect to pay and extra $13.50 for municipal services in the coming year.

In format, Kennebunkport strikes a middle ground amongst its neighbors come town meeting time.

In Kennebunk, residents are still the official legislative body, but the town has done away with the traditional floor meeting, choosing to do all of its business at the polls. In Arundel, meanwhile, all town meeting work save for voting on elected officials is still done in an open public session, where residents can raise questions and make amendments.

In Kennebunkport, voting on both elected officials and any ordinance proposals is done in the ballot booth on Primary Day. Only budgetary items and other boilerplate articles — such as setting the interest rate on overdue taxes and allowing selectmen to accept gifts to the town — are handled on the floor.

At the meeting, longtime moderator Wayne Adams calls on selectmen and budget board members to move each warrant article for passage from a list of names on the podium before him.

The breakneck pace of Saturday’s annual meeting actually included Adams taking time to read off the results of Primary Day polling, in which voters elected two selectmen (returning incumbents Stuart Barwise and Allen Daggett, who ran unopposed), and a school board member (giving a formal nod to Sarah Jane Dore, who ran unopposed to replace Peter Fellenz), as well as a water district trustee (James Burroughs), and a beach advisory committee member (Jon Dykstra) both of whom also faced no challengers.

Voters also weighed in on seven ordinance amendments, all of which save one passed handily, with 70 percent or more in favor.

The one sort-of-close vote was an edit to the town’s Land Use Ordinance, designed to remove a provision in which developers could get a bump of up to 50 percent in parking area limits when paving with porous materials. That material, often referred to as “pervious pavers,” is designed to allow stormwater and other liquids to seep through, rather than run off toward the low edges, as happens with regular asphalt.

The amendment passed 555-379.

According to Town Planner Werner Gilliam, speaking at a public hearing in February, the allowance was targeted for removal in order to better comply with state standards, which no longer give credit in shoreland zones for use of certain permeable surfaces.

“What was found after a number of years was that some communities were not consistency enforcing what DEP [the Department of Environmental Protection] intent was, along with a realization that some contractors were not installing this material properly,” Gilliam said at the time

With a credit no longer allowed on the state level giving permission for larger paved areas than otherwise permitted, it only made sense that similar language should be cut from local codes, Gilliam said.

Other approved changes included:

 Eliminating the town’s wastewater department and reorganizing it as a part of the public works department under Michael Claus, while also placing the Cape Porpoise Harbor Master Jim Black under Police Chief Craig Sanford. It passed 824-222.

 Placing Cape Porpoise Pier Manager Lee McCurdy also under the police chief’s chain of command, passed 804-256.

 Allowing the town’s Rate of Growth Area map to be reviewed and altered by the Growth Planning Committee to reflect infrastructure updates, without the need to gain town meeting approval for each change, passed 906-157.

The town created its growth area map in 2010, stipulating that allowed building permits issued each year should be divvied out with 50 percent going to areas targeted for high growth, 20 percent for more rural parts of town and 30 percent for the transitional districts in between. The new rule allows the map to be updated over time to reflect installation of things like sewer lines, which can be deemed to alter which areas of town qualify as rural.

 Adding language to the town’s Land Use Ordinance to make clear that required setbacks from lot lines and rights-of-way pertain to vehicular traffic, and not pedestrian walkways, passed 788-222.

The proposal clarifies that for purposes of determining road setback requirements for construction, the line of demarcation shall start at the edge of the town’s legal right of way, regardless of where the actual edge of the road or sidewalks, as constructed, actually lay.

 Removing the $50 permit fee from the town’s Floodplain Management Ordinance and adding it to the town’s regular fee schedule, where it can be updated by selectmen without need of town meeting approval, passed 710-294, and,

 Updating the town’s Street Ordinance to add sections creating a naming and numbering system, passed 843-178.

Primarily, these changes reinforce that all public and private streets with two or more homes must be named, with no two names being similar enough to create potential confusion among emergency responders.

The changes also clarify the requirements for posting house numbers that EMS personnel can spot easily.

According to Town Clerk Tracy O’Roak, an even 40 percent of registered voters turned out for the June 12 election and referendum balloting.

That voting also included the selection of gubernatorial candidates for Maine’s two major political parties.

Among town Republicans, Gorham businessman Shawn Moody was the walkaway favorite, as he captured 219 (55.9 percent) of the 392 GOP votes cast. Trailing Moody were, in order, former Department of Health and Human Services head Mary Mayhew (105 votes), Lisbon Falls state senator Garrett Mason (38), and House majority leader Kenneth Fredette of Newport (30).

For the Democrats, the second-round count under Maine’s new ranked-choice voting system was not available by the Tuesday morning deadline for this week’s Post. However, in first-round balloting, Sanford attorney Adam Cote was the clear favorite over Attorney General Janet Mills, who triumphed statewide, with 33 percent of the vote, to Cote’s 28 percent.

Locally, Cote drew 213 votes, or 46.7 percent of the tally, to 150 (32.9 percent) for Mills.

Running out back in the Democratic race locally were Hallowell lobbyist and former state legislator Elizabeth Sweet (with 67 votes), former speaker of the Maine House Mark Eves of North Berwick (54), Portland attorney Mark Dion (11), former Biddeford mayor Donna Dion (10) and former state legislator Diane Russell (5).

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

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