2018-10-05 / Front Page

Three questions sent to the voters

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK – Kennebunk selectmen have sent three questions to a referendum vote at the November general election, signing the warrant to do so at their Sept. 25 meeting.

Question 2 on the ballot will ask for voter permission to take $75,000 from the town’s general fund balance to buy and equip two new police vehicles, one to be used by one of the town’s new school resource officers, and one for the animal control officer the town shares with Kennebunkport.

Although selectmen voted unanimously Sept. 11 to move the question to voters, several board members expressed frustration with the need, citing concern that RSU 21 has essentially handed the town the bill for something that will be used nine months of the year.

The town budget board voted 5-1 against recommending passage of the item.

Question 3 will ask voters to take another $100,000 from the surplus fund for a gift to the Friends of Hope Woods & Cemetery. That money will be put toward $1.4 million the group is trying to raise to buy a conservation easement on the 72-acre woods. If successful, $700,000 of the amount to be raised would go to Hope Cemetery to help offset future operating expenses. Cemetery trustees have said the money is needed to keep the cemetery private and forestall the day when it might be forced to become a town-run, taxpayer-supported entity.

If the Friends, working in cooperation with the Kennebunk Land Trust, are not successful in raising the full $1.4 million, the town’s $100,000 gift would be refunded.

Town Finance Director Joel Downs estimated Kennebunk’s general fund currently has about $400,000 in it that not already promised to other needs.

Question 5 would strike from Kennebunk’s zoning ordinance a section that bans piers, docks, wharves, walkways, ramps and floats from “any areas identified as velocity zones” on the most recent Flood Insurance Rate Maps produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The suggested deletion was initiated in July by Baker Design Consultants of Freeport on behalf of five properties on the western side of Lord’s Point, who hired the firm to improve their existing “seasonal waterfront access facilities” — or “docks.”

The FEMA “velocity zone covers areas that could expect storm surge flooding of three feet or more during a so-called 100-year storm,or the type of storm that has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year. But Baker argued to town planners that the FEMA modeling is intended to address “the long-term exposure and insurability of permanent structures (primarily buildings) placed on the coast.” By contrast, it noted, wharves, piers and docks are not insurable under the National Flood Insurance Program, rendering restrictions on such facilities moot.

Baker said the new docks are seasonal and, if not already out of the water during those times of year when a significant storm is most likely to strike, can easily be pulled out before the worst arrives.

The planning board voted 5-0 at its Aug. 27 meeting to endorse losing the ban. Selectmen voted 5-2 to place the question before voters.

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

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