GRAY TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
March 20, 2012
HENRY PENNELL MUNICIPAL COMPLEX –7:00 P.M.
Councilors Margaret Hutchins, Matt Doughty, Matt Sturgis, Lew Mancini, Richard Barter
Town Manager Deborah Cabana
Others present and speaking: Mary Miller, James Monroe, Steve Griffin, Norman Tanguay, Doug Webster, Mark Grover, Donnie Carroll, Kathy Frye, Alice Davis
Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag:
Minutes from Previous Meetings:
Approval of March 6, 2012, Town Council Minutes
Councilor Barter moved; Councilor Sturgis seconded
Ordered the Gray Town Council approves March 6, 2012 Town Council Minutes, as presented.
First Order of Business:
Public Comments of Non-Agenda Items – (limit 3 minutes per person)
Mary Miller asked what procedures are in place to reprimand and/or censure a member of a Town Committee or Town Council. Councilor Sturgis stated that there are none. She urged the Council to see that procedures be put in place. She also stated that the Legrow Road residents have continually expressed their concerns and she stated that nothing has been done. She urges the Council to consider the taxpayers and asked if anyone on the Council would want to have a gravel pit on their road? Councilor Doughty stated that the Council has been
open-minded, they have been listening to their concerns and have acted within the limits of the zoning in Gray. He stated that there is a committee being formed to review the gravel pit ordinance. Mary urges a moratorium on gravel pits forever in Gray.
James Monroe stated that the owners of the gravel pit appear to not be following the rules. His main concern was that the Planning Board indicated that they could not do anything about bus transportation on the Legrow Road. He asked why there is a Planning Board given that the members believe they cannot do anything? He believes that the permit should be revoked if the owners have been breaking the conditions of the permit.
Steve Griffin stated that on Feb. 9th the Planning Board approved the Legrow Road gravel pit. He stated that the Town’s attorney has stated that the Council has 45 days to change the law and impose a moratorium and this evening’s meeting is day 41. He believes it still can be done. He stated that his property has been the cornerstone of his ability to have a comfortable retired life and commented on the need to put up with the constant noise, etc for the next 10 years. He expressed his anger with the Council. He urges the Council to demonstrate leadership and impose a moratorium.
Second Order of Business:
Report from the Council Chair:
Councilor Sturgis stated that he has received communications from Katherine Murray, Chair of the Gravel Pit Ordinance Review Committee about selecting a workshop date with the Council. The group agreed to April 5th at 7pm. He also stated that the Town Manager’s evaluation needs to be completed. It was suggested to schedule it in Executive Session at the 2nd April Council Meeting.
Councilor Sturgis stated that the Boards and volunteers are doing their best with a number of challenging issues and an error in judgment can happen. Some items are more difficult than others. He has given a lot of thought on this. He apologized on behalf of the Council for the error in judgment that occurred at the Planning Board. He indicated that as part of the re-application process questions can be asked of a renewing applicant in the future as a way to consider their actions in the renewal process.
Report from the Town Manager:
Town Manager Cabana reminded the group about the fundraiser for Steve LaVallee’s granddaughter on March 30th at Spring Meadows. There are only 90 tickets left.
A donation to the Gray Food Pantry from the disposed Christmas trees was made.
The Public Safety Department received a grant from Maine Forest Service.
Nomination papers are available and must be returned April 30th
Elizabeth Bullen and Michelle Jackson of the Administration Office each has earned their certification as a Maine Certified Municipal Clerk.
She stated that she volunteered for Meals on Wheels and it was an amazing experience. There is only one Gray volunteer who delivers food. They are looking for more volunteers.
Councilor Barter stated that he, the CEDC chair, and the Town Manager met with MaineDOT to review the proliferation of signs in Town. There are a number of laws that the Town and State are locked into. It was a constructive conversation and some adjustments will be made and others will be discussed. The Library Trustees met and reviewed the latest report on the library’s expansion. The latest designs were approved in concept. The Gravel Pit Ordinance Review Committee is an effective group of volunteers trying to work on this concern and hopefully there will be good improvements in the future. He thanked Katherine Murray, chair of the committee for her work.
Councilor Mancini stated that the Planning Board had a special workshop to discuss a variety of current issues. They will want to hold a workshop with the Council. They also want to review the existing ordinances. The Dry Mills Schoolhouse Committee needs more members and/or those who may want to help on Saturday hosting visitors. The Windham Correctional Facility work program will begin repairs to the building in May.
Councilor Doughty stated that none of his committees have met but he participated in the Gravel Pit Ordinance Review Committee and it has a good cross section of people. He believes there will be a good outcome. He thanked the committee Chair for her efforts.
Councilor Hutchins stated that Peter Thoits is the recipient of the eco-excellence award this year.
Councilor Sturgis stated that the Recreation and Conservation Committee met.
Councilor Barter stated that he has heard from citizens who are concerned about graffiti in the center of Town. He would volunteer to assist any group in painting over it but suggests that the Town Manager communicate that the Town does not support the disrespect of public officials.
Councilor Doughty asked if the roads might be un-posted given the current weather. He also commented on the Legrow Road gravel pit hours of operation. He asked if the Town can the town inspect and/or follow-up with this to address public complaints.
Doug Webster stated that the hours of operation are 7am-5pm M-F, excluding national holidays. These hours are more stringent than the State standards. The road posting issues are monitored by the Sheriff’s office and Public Works but that there are some vehicles under the weight limit that can drive on the road. Town Manager Cabana stated that there was concern about run-off on a property and the Town permitted one piece of excavation equipment to address this issue. The road postings will likely be lifted soon given the weather.
Third Order of Business:
- Volunteer of the Year Award to Judy Huff
Councilor Sturgis read the award description regarding Judy Huff as Volunteer of the Year and then presented her with the award. He thanked Judy for all of her contributions to the community.
- Discussion regarding conflict of interest issues.
Councilor Sturgis stated that there will some outstanding questions regarding the statement from the Town’s Attorney’s response regarding conflict of interest issues
Norman Tanguay stated that this has been an ongoing issue for the past 8 weeks and it has not been addressed clearly. He believes that the appearance of a conflict of interest is unclear and at times, in who they represent. He asked about how monies are paid to them. While he understands the Town Attorney’s letter, it appears that they were working on behalf of the applicant. He expressed concerns about the appearance of conflict of interest and believes that other residents have similar concerns. He cited an example from the Planning Board about test boring of the Legrow Road and the outcome to articulate his concerns. He stated that it is unsettling and that the Council is not holding the rest of the Town to the same standards as the Legrow Road residents. They felt that they were not
on an even playing field in this process.
Town Manager Cabana stated that any bids going out are done on behalf of the Town. In the event that a developer applies for a project, the engineering services are paid by them and the Town hires another engineering service for the Town’s representation. She also indicated that monies for developers’ projects are put in escrow by them and are paid through this mechanism.
Norman Tanguay stated that the Town’s engineer should not be involved in the road intersection aspect of the project and it only occurred because of the gravel pit on the Legrow Road. He stated that he appreciated Councilor Sturgis’ apology on behalf of the Planning Board Chair but believes that it shouldn’t come from him.
Mary Miller stated that the conflict of interest issue with the Town’s engineer has happened in the past and agrees with Norman Tanguay’s comments. She believes that businesses/developers seek Gorrill Palmer out specifically because they believe Gorrill Palmer can push the project along in their favor.
Steve Griffin stated that the Town Attorney’s opinion has been stated yet the issue is the appearance of conflict of interest. He also commented on Councilor Mancini’s reporting on his relationship to a gravel pit owner.
Councilor Barter stated that while it is difficult for him to agree with these comments, he urges the Council to look at the issue of conflict of interest as well as the appearance of conflict as a whole. There are laws that need to be followed. He urges a conversation in a broader context rather than related to the gravel pit.
Councilor Doughty stated that there is a difference between representing an applicant and advocating for them. In a small Town, there will be some overlap but perception is a big concern. He believes that working through these potential problems in the beginning stages of a project is critical and where issues/concerns can be addressed. He stated that the notification process should be included in the Gravel Pit Ordinance Review Committee discussions. He stated that Gorrill Palmer indicated early on that he was representing a client. Councilor Hutchins agreed with Councilor Doughty.
Norman Tanguay stated that he was not trying to discredit Al Palmer but rather that there should be some criteria in advance of the process to help address the appearance of conflict of interest. He believes that Al Palmer’s original presentation about the Legrow Road project was different than how it is being done now and that there should be some standards created about this issue.
Councilor Sturgis agreed with the overall comments. He suggested including language in the contracts for services with the Town to address this. He also suggested a Town engineer as an employee as another option to consider. He believes that this applies to other people/situations.
- Second Reading on Wellhead District amendment.
There was no public comment
- Council provides an opportunity for public comment on the FY 2013 Budget
Councilor Sturgis stated that there will be a public hearing on April 3rd for the budget but the Council a few years ago suggested preliminary opportunities.
Mark Grover stated that the CIP appears to have a shortfall. He urges the Council to fully fund the CIP to plan for the future. He suggests adding the shortfall amount as a warrant item and let the voters decide if they want to raise the funds (through a property tax increase).
Donnie Carroll asked about the Gray Historical Society’s lease arrangement of a Town match up to $6,000. He asked where this item appears in the budget. Town Manager Cabana stated that $3,000 has been set aside under the community services line item.
Fourth Order of Business: ORDERS
Item #082-12 (Tabled from February 7, 2012) To review and act upon making appointments to the Gray Honor Roll, as recommended by the Gray Historical Society.
Councilor Barter moved; Councilor Mancini seconded
Ordered the Gray Town Council removes item #082-12 from the table.
Councilor Mancini moved; Councilor Doughty seconded
Ordered, that the Gray Town Council approves the recommended nominations of the Gray Historical Society to the Gray Honor Roll.
Kathy Frye, President of the Gray Historical Society stated that they formed a group to research and proposed recommendations to the Council. She stated that she understands that this is going through 2015. Town Manager Cabana stated that this is the initial group and that the subsequent groups may be smaller.
Councilor Barter stated that some of the explanations as for recommendations may not be sufficient. He suggested that profiles from the 18th and 19th centuries to be reviewed first.
Donnie Carroll stated that they would like some guidance since there weren’t sufficient details on the criteria. It should be more defined and would help them achieve these recommendations. There was a discussion related to the possible definitions and criteria.
Councilor Doughty agreed with a number of Councilor Barter’s comments and suggestions, and he agreed with more established criteria. Donnie Carroll stated that this was a dilemma for those who worked on this.
Mark Grover stated that other than what the Council approved, the rest of the criteria were left open to interpretation. He stated that the Council makes the choice in the end. He supports both the Council and the Historical Society working together. He stated that the Council can appoint as many as they wish up until 2014, then following, only 2 per year. This is why “deceased” as a criteria was suggested to make it easier and clearer in the nomination process.
Councilor Barter suggested someone from the Council to sit in a meeting with the Historical Society.
Town Manager stated that part of the criteria included photos, and other additional information that could be included in an historical book. The limitation of 15 words is to complete the phrase “in recommendation for….” The book would have far more information and supporting material.
Mark Grover stated that the Council should not limit itself. Donnie Carroll stated that they would be willing to have a workshop with the Council on this and they can send the names back to the Historical Society on those the Council would like more information. The Historical Society will have more data and photos in the next few weeks. He stated that what they are looking for is clearer guidelines from the Council.
Kathy Frye asked if an editable PDF form can be used to include the data and to upload photos. Town Manager Cabana stated that she can find out.
Councilor Hutchins stated that this list be reworked and brought back to the Council.
Alice Davis stated that she understood that the initial work was on the settlers of the Town. She stated that the early businesses were important to the life of the community and should be so noted. The Historical Society approached their research in a sequential process by the centuries.
Councilor Barter asked if a staff person can help them or a stipend be provided to help them with the technology. They are not trying to be critical, but helpful in achieving a common goal
Councilor Sturgis suggested accepting the list as is for now and agrees with Alice Davis’ reasons for selecting these people. Councilor Barter offered an amendment.
Councilor Barter moved; Councilor Mancini seconded.
Ordered, that the Gray Town Council approves the recommended nominations of the Gray Historical Society to the Gray Honor Roll up to the 20th century.
5 Yes (amendment)
5 yes (motion as amended)
Item #094-10 To review and act upon the appointment of election officials for a period of two years, ending April 30, 2014.
Councilor Doughty moved; Councilor Hutchins seconded
Ordered the Gray Town Council approves the proposed election officials for a period of two years, ending April 30, 2014. See names attached.
Town Manager Cabana stated that the Democrats and Republicans had their caucuses and chosen their nominees. This requires approval by the Council before May 1st
Councilor Barter recused himself as he knows people on this list.
4 Yes/1 Abstention (Barter)
Item #095-12 To review and act upon setting the minimum bid prices for each of the Tax Acquired properties previously ordered to be auctioned.
Councilor Barter moved; Councilor Mancini seconded
Ordered the Gray Town Council authorizes the minimum bid prices for each of the Tax Acquired properties previously ordered to be auctioned as follows.
Councilor Sturgis gave an overview on the process and that the 5 properties acquired should be auctioned.
- Michael/Michelle DeRoche property on Depot Rd. The Town did not receive a minimum bid at last auction
Recommend a $6,800 minimum bid. This is to cover the Town’s expenses.
- Douglas McAtee lot off Dutton Hill Rd, 7 acres. It is a land locked parcel and the he does not want it.
Recommend a $5,000 minimum bid.
- Thomas Reminga lot on Dutton Hill Rd, 14.3 acres. It is land locked parcel.
Recommend a $12,000 minimum bid.
- Theodore Minot, 10 acres parcel on Dutton Hill Rd. It did not sell a few years ago and is a land locked parcel
Recommend a $7500 minimum bid.
- A .5 acre lot on Whitney Rd. It did not sell a few years ago.
Recommend a $12,000 minimum bid.
Item #096-12 To review and act upon authorizing the Town Manager to enter into a one-year employment contract with Elizabeth Humphrey for the position of Director of Economic Development.
Councilor Doughty moved; Councilor Barter seconded
Ordered the Gray Town Council authorizes and directs the Town Manager to enter into a one-year employment contract with Elizabeth Humphrey for the position of Director of Economic Development.
Councilor Sturgis read a conceptual statement on the process for selection of a candidate for this position. The focus for this position will be on marketing, measurable results and increase in business. The current Council supports this candidate.
Councilor Barter stated that while he understands Councilor Sturgis’ comments, he wants to be sure that this process for this position and the goals are understood as a joint effort. He believes that the contract is not specific enough with clear, tangible goals and results. He reminded everyone that this is a one year position and reports to the Council on a monthly basis. He suggested this person form a citizen advisory committee to help define the objectives. Councilor Mancini agreed with Councilor Barter and as a one year contract, he is more comfortable with this. He spoke highly of the applicant and was impressed. He asked the public to trust that this process will be successful.
Councilor Doughty stated that he supports this new direction. He was impressed with the applicant’s resume and commitment to the community and believes that this is the right direction to go. Councilor Hutchins stated that to be successful, the Council, within the next month, should sit down with the applicant to specifically outline what they want. Otherwise, this position will fail. She expressed concerns on some of the short term work outlined in the description. She suggested quarterly reports to them.
Elizabeth Humphrey stated that she has been a resident of Gray for 9 years and looks forward to the opportunity. She stated that she believes that she has a passion for Gray for its potential. She believes that all the community involvement is integral to bringing business to the Town.
Councilor Barter believes that this position is a transition process. The marketing of the Town is the main focus within this job description. He urged monthly updates. He also commented on the CEDC’s staff support now has changed and he wants to be sure that they continue to have support.
Fifth Order of Business: ORDINANCES:
Item #097-12 (Second Reading) To review and act upon a proposed amendment to the Official Gray Zoning Map to adopt Wellhead 1 zoning around a Gray Water District public water supply well on Yarmouth Road.
Councilor Barter moved; Councilor Mancini seconded
The Town of Gray hereby ordains the proposed amendments to the Official Gray Zoning Map to adopt a new Wellhead District 1 around a Gray Water District public water supply well on Yarmouth Road to the Gray Planning Board for review and comment.
Sixth Order of Business:
Seventh Order of Business:
- Schedule a workshop with the Planning Board
Councilor Sturgis stated that he has spoken with the Planning Board Chair and would like to schedule a meeting. The group will propose a date in April
Eighth Order of Business:
Additions to the Agenda: NONE
Ninth Order of Business: Adjournment
Councilor Barter moved; Councilor Hutchins seconded
Moved to adjourn
The meeting ended at 9:40pm
Minutes approved and accepted by its Town Council:
Matthew Sturgis (Chair) Margaret Hutchins
Matthew Doughty Lewis Mancini
Richard Barter (Vice Chair)
* The Town of Gray is an equal opportunity employer and complies with all applicable equal access to public accommodations law. If you are planning to attend a Town Council or Town committee or board meeting and need assistance with a physical disability, please contact the Town Manager’s office at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting to have the Town assist you. 657-3339. TTY 657-3931.