Gathering at the Lincolnville Central School, citizens spent an amiable two hours tending to municipal business at annual town meeting, many taking to the microphone for questions and comments, others content to knit and raise their hands in yea or nay on the 30 warrant articles before them.

Approximately 80 residents attended the meeting, agreeing to a 2011-2012 municipal  budget of $1.75 million, up 3.5 percent from the current budget of $1.69 million.

At the meeting, they also agreed to budget an additional $32,890 for the demolition of an old house at the corner of routes 173 and 235 in Lincolnville Center, across from Petunia Pump. The house has been an eyesore to the town for more than two years, and the town initiated action against its owner, Donald Simonton of Haverhill, Mass., in April 2009, beginning with an order to remove trash from the outside.

The house subsequently was determined a health hazard and its removal has been recommended by the selectmen.

At town meeting, Lincolnville Town Administrator David Kinney said since the town began action, Simonton “did not take a whole lot of interest or action.”

Since deciding to ask town voters permission to tear the building down, the selectmen learned it has asbestos siding, the disposal of which requires licensed handlers.

Resident Bradford Payne asked if the town could bring any further legal action against Simonton.

“We shall rigorously pursue all legal avenues to recover costs,” said Kinney.

Resident Liz Hand asked how much the town has spent to date on the issue of the house.

Kinney estimated $7,500, including trash removal, building inspection, legal fees, bid preparation and asbestos check.

“How much staff time?” he said. “Too much, unfortunately.”

But, all expenses are collectible by the town, according to state law, said town attorney Sally Daggett, of the Portland-based firm Jensen, Baird, Gardner and Henry. She said the town has redress against the individual property owner, and through placing a lien on the land.

Lincolnville could file a civil suit against Simonton, “but the reality is that Mr. Simonton is very difficult to locate. Even the lender [bank] does not know where he is.”

“Tweet him,” said resident Greg Boetsch.

Barbara Hatch asked if the land was contaminated, and Kinney replied that at this point, the septic system has probably failed. Bill Carroll said he favored tearing down the building and would not discount making the lot into a park, but he added he also would approve building on the land.

“I hope we would do all we can with variances and welcome people into town,” he said.

By approving the demolition expenditure, citizens then were asked whether to approve the spending cap, a figure established by LD 1. That state law attempts to limit how much municipal budgets can grow from year to year. If they grow beyond a figure established by a state calculation, a town must ask voters for permission to exceed that cap.

Payne asked if the town incurs a financial penalty for exceeding the cap.

Kinney said there are no penalties if voters approve exceeding the cap. He did not know how much the town exceeded the cap with the additional $32,890 added to the budget, but estimated later in the discussion that it was probably $15,000 to $16,000.

“Maine is a nice home-rule state,” he said.

Payne said the original intent of the law was to exert an effect over municipal spending.

“This, in effect, has no effect,” he said.

“This, in effect, has a limited effect,” said Kinney. “To the best of my knowledge, there are no LD 1 police.”

Payne said it would be helpful to have the total tax implications from all the budgets — municipal, school and county.

“Most of us are really concerned about the bottom line of the tax rate,” he said. “This is too piecemeal. He said the tax cap vote, which was to follow by ballot box vote, should have been at the top of the warrant.

A budget committee member then said that there were two seats available on the budget committee, which had been discussing the budget for months.

Paul Crowley asked how much over the cap the demolition addition would take the town. When Kinney responded with $15,000 to $16,000, Crowley said: “I think that puts it into perspective for us.”

Carroll said: “This idea of a limit has no rationale to it. It makes no sense.”

Citizens then formed a line and individually cast paper ballots into the box, ultimately approving exceeding the spending cap.

Lincolnville also approved a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities, as well as a moratorium on methadone clinics.

The two warrant articles were proposed by the selectmen, with the anticipation that the town will draft language governing siting of those facilities in town.

“How long is the moratorium,” asked Edmund Hartt.

“One hundred and eighty days,” said Daggett.

After some discussion, the town also approved entering into a lease with the Lincolnville Improvement Association and/or the Lincolnville Historical Society for the use of the former schoolhouse property at Lincolnville Beach.

“Why a lease after 100 years of occupation [by the LIA],” asked resident Diane O’Brien.

“The insurance company has asked the town to obtain a lease with outside groups for liability purposes,” said Kinney.

The terms and conditions are to be established by the selectmen, and the town has recognized the contributions of the LIA and the historical society, which spend $5,000 annually on the building for its upkeep, he said. After one resident asked what repercussions would ensue of the town did not approve the lease request, Kinney said the insurance company might drop the town, or impose a cost.

Selectman Stacey Parra said she recognized and appreciated the investment by the two organizations in the old schoolhouse and would work to keep the terms amenable to all parties. After that, the town approved the warrant article.

Citizens then agreed to lease the former Center Fire Station and Annex in Lincolnville Center. The town, at a 2008 town meeting, had already voted to allow the selectmen to sell the property, following construction of a new fire station on Route 52.

Last winter, an informal group of residents approached the selectmen about using the buildings for a variety of community purposes and enterprise. After consulting with its insurance carrier, the town determined it needed to ask voters for approval to lease the property. The intent of the group is to lease, or possibly buy the property in the future.

At town meeting, resident Jim Dunham said the group has since formed as a nonprofit, the Lincolnville Community Alliance, and wants to revitalize the Center. Possible uses include a market featuring local foods, crafts and art, a lending library for books and tools, all with the purpose that “as a community we can support each other.”

“I’ve lived in Lincolnville 21 years, 11 of them in Lincolnville Center,” said Hand. “From my house, I can now see seven vacant buildings in the Center.”

She cited the almost $50,000 that will ultimately be expended on the derelict house across from Petunia Pump.

“I feel very strongly that this community should expend money to bring life and business to this town,” she said. “It is time to see this a vital, living community again instead of being essentially a ghost town.”

Kinney noted that the warrant article would expand the town’s right to lease, but not revoke its authority to sell.

Residents speaking in favor of the measure said the comprehensive plan supports furthering agriculture in town, and a farmers market would help accomplish that.

Millard Eugley said that Lincolnville Fire Department was willing to build the new station with the understanding that the old fire station and the property would be sold.

“I know there’s no written agreement to that effect,” said Kinney.

“Who is responsible for maintenance,” asked Eugley.

“It would be on terms in the best interest of the town,” said Kinney.

Eugley suggested getting an estimate.

“I know the building,” he said. “I don’t think leasing is an option to the town.”

“Sell it to whom and for what,” asked Carroll. The town has to be proactive, he said. “Something is not happening here in the Center. We have got to do something. Look at Hope Center,” noting its library, store, restaurant. “The place looks great. We say sell it, but to whom and for what? We have to look at the larger picture, and invest in the economic future. Not how I get $37,000 out of it.”

In the end, the town approved the measure, as it also approved contributing $9,014 to provider agencies, $8,000 to help monitor water quality at Norton Pond, fix the annual rate of interest for late taxes at 7 percent, apply alone or with Northport for exclusive rights to take alewives from the Ducktrap River, and authorize the tax collector to accept prepayment of property taxes, with interest to be paid on same.

To the latter, Moderator Rick McKittrick said: “I hear chuckles.”

The meeting concluded just after noon, and as it did, a brief debate ensued between Peg Miller and Edmund Hartt as to the wisdom of scheduling town meeting on a Saturday morning versus a weeknight. Miller advocated for the elderly, Hartt for the younger generation. Lincolnville selectmen had the same discussion earlier in the spring. In both cases, there was no resolution.