Amendments adopted amid controversy
Waldoboro — Following a 30-minute public hearing, then 40 minutes of debate April 22, the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen — at the strong urging of Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs — voted 5-0 to accept the changes to two attachments in the Waldoboro Solid Waste Disposal and Required Recycling Ordinance.
More than 35 residents of the combined Waldoboro, Cushing, and Friendship area were in attendance.
Selectman Ron Miller brought up several objections to the amendments, primarily the length and complexity of the document and the unsatisfactory procedural methods regarding complaints that had been brought to the attention of Public Works Director John Daigle, Briggs, and selectmen.
Attachment B outlines that any complaint shall be directed to the Transfer Station Manager and, if necessary thereafter, to the Transfer Station Committee in writing.
Daigle stated the Transfer Station Committee has not had any incidents documented.
"The chain of command has been the issue," said Daigle.
"This committee oversees the operation, why wouldn't you want them involved," said Selectman James Bodman, following comments by both selectmen Miller and Carl Cunningham regarding their beliefs that "committees don't have any authority" to deal with problems.
"The committee seems to think that they have more power over the process. That's 'our call'," said Miller.
Briggs attested she will be working closely with Daigle on all complaints to reach a resolution.
Terry Gifford, owner of Joe's Rubbish Removal, addressed some concerns she had with the operation as well, however was reminded "there is a process" by Briggs.
"I will not accept somebody making unfounded accusations of a public employee in a public setting," said Briggs in a followup conversation April 23.
Addressing Miller's other concern of the length and complexity of the ordinance with the amendment changes, Butler said the committee was dealing with an old document.
"The recycling rate was 10 percent. We had to try to think of most things that needed clarification," said Transfer Station Committee Chairman Robert Butler.
He noted the two major accomplishments of the changes were clarifying how discretionary authority is used and how to further insulate the town manager and selectmen to make sure it is as nonpolitical as possible.
"All three towns have something to say about how it works," said Butler.
He also said the changes had to clarify how to get to the recommended 30 percent recycling.
"It was a collaborative effort," said Selectman Ted Wooster, who also serves on the Transfer Station Committee.
Further discussion uncovered the existence of a pamphlet that briefs residents on the transfer station requirements and the more in-depth clarifications can be found in the ordinance — satisfying the concern of the length and complexity which defines the 33-page ordinance.
During the debate, Briggs brought up the fact that when she was interviewed she was asked how she would retain and obtain volunteers for the town.
"You do that by respecting their time, energy and recommendations," she said. "I urge you to pass these ordinances, if nothing else to show the respect to this volunteer group and to move us forward."
The motion to vote was called and the amendments to Attachments A and B were unanimously approved 5-0.
The Transfer Station Committee had unanimously approved the changes at its March 26 meeting.
At that meeting, the committee agreed to change the wording to clarify the issuing of waste hauler licenses and collection of fees. Also agreed upon was the minimum goal of 30 percent recyclables, and "only garbage shall remain for deposit into the Transfer Station compactor after such separation."
Daigle informed the committee that individual haulers are more than meeting the 30 percent recycling guideline. If permitted users do not have 30 percent, transfer station staff can open the bags and charge the applicable fees.
Daigle further stated there are still only two haulers out of 11 that are not in compliance.
Further amendments were made to the Fines, Penalties and Sanctions section of the ordinance. Butler suggested that a recent incident demanded extensive clarifications to ensure everyone understands violence in the workplace.
Instead of referencing OSHA regulations on the subject, the committee agreed by consensus that the lengthy explanation — as amended — will further a better understanding of what constitutes workplace violence.
"We believe the changes are a step forward and represent an improvement," said Butler in an email correspondence April 23.
He further stated the committee will continue to review the ordinance in light of feedback from the public.
"Like any ordinance, it is a work-in-progress," said Butler.
Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
594-4401 ext. 125
Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.
Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.
Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.
Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 14.