Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor April 1

Apr 02, 2021

Please support the LD1126 bill

After my life changed in January due to a serious accident, I am keenly aware of the importance of handicap accessibility in everyday life. Most of us don’t consider how the simplest task can be a challenge, especially in a rural state where you often have to drive somewhere to complete such tasks.

For example, registering to vote in the state of Maine currently requires either an in-person visit to one’s town clerk or attendance at a voter registration drive held at a scheduled location. Both of these options assume that one has access to transportation and, in some cases, that assistance would be available. Maine does allow mail-in registration, but this option requires the ability to copy documents; many, if not most, Mainers would still need access to transportation to copy their documents at the public library. For some eligible voters Maine’s limited voter registration options present an obstacle to participating in our democracy. We can make registering to vote more accessible by implementing online voter registration.

Forty other states offer online voter registration. It is safe, convenient and efficient. A bill, LD 1126, has been submitted to implement online voter registration in Maine. Please call your representative to urge them to support LD1126. You can also voice your input at a public hearing Monday, April 5.

Thank you for helping to make this a reality for those who may otherwise be left out.

Eileen Fitzgerald

Rockland

Lost vote and credibility gain

At the Dec. 14, 2020, Rockland City Council meeting, the board passed in First Reading Zoning Ordinance Amendment #39, with final passage March 8, to amend the definition of an Accessory Apartment to allow for the construction of new detached apartments or dwellings or Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on lots with a single-family residence as a separate stand alone structure ranging in size from 425 to 800 square feet.

The amendment is being marketed by its proponents as one of the options for providing more affordable rental housing for low-income persons and workers in which housing costs don’t require more than 30% of a household’s income.

During the three month period between the amendment’s introduction and approval the opponents to the amendment appeared face-to-face at council meetings via zoom to publicly speak-out against the amendment as well as writing many letters to the editors in opposition to the ordinance change. The opponents’ arguments were based on the following.

Storm water management in which added new development along Lindsey Brook will only increase the amount storm water runoff flowing into the brook; heavier and year-round rain events caused by climate change leading to increased lot and street flooding from new apartments on small crowed lots; and that there are better alternatives for providing more affordable housing through the rehabilitation of existing buildings, private-public partnerships and creative financing.

Since the council’s vote to approve, I have received numerous emails and telephone calls, as well as people stopping to talk to me, in support of the opponents’ positions.

From this feedback it appears that even though the opponents lost the council vote in a 4-1 decision, the opponents gained a large measure of creditability on the issues of storm water management, climate change and affordable housing from a significant portion of the Rockland population as well as from residents of other Knox County communities.

For these reasons, the City Council and the city staff would do well to listen to the input of the opponents on these issues.

Rodney Lynch

Rockland

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (2)
Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Apr 06, 2021 12:48

Stakeholder interests from Rockland residents, who have served well and long on city councils and other city departments, with expertise in the fields related to tiny houses, climate change, city ordinances, etc. are ignored by city council, none of whom have historical knowledge of Rockland nor any expertise in the fields under discussion. Affordable housing in Rockland will not be met by these two ordinances. Rather they will be a back door to short-term rentals at competitive market prices. While Maine is advertised as "Vacationland", Rockland's dense neighborhoods are not the appropriate locales for more crowding for the sake of tourism.

-Phyllis Merriam



Posted by: Barbara S Mogel | Apr 05, 2021 15:24

Rockland's City Council is experimenting with ideas that are based on good intentions, but they have overlooked stakeholder interests, failed to consider professional expertise, abused the town's zoning ordinances, and have disregarded our shared values by not engaging with, and listen to citizens. To serve successfully in government, you have to love people more than ideas. Where was council when the inmate re-entry boarding house had no heat, hot water nor cooking fuel for three days because the owner overlooked connecting fuel for three months? And now where are the re-entry men, who were celebrated in concept by the council, as the owner is selling the house out from under them? The conclusion of that experiment was not hard to predict.

Now the same thing is happening again: four of the five councilors love the idea of tiny houses but have failed to grasp the long term impacts that tiny houses will have, as Mr. Lynch's letter begins to describe. So where is the council's commitment to carbon neutrality vis a vie tiny houses that will need lots of energy to heat in Maine? What about Rockland's resiliency in the face of climate changes that will trigger worse storms and extreme flooding? What about the council's pledges to preserve the character of Rockland's historic neighborhoods? Those are ideas all derived from stakeholder input - not experiments. The council's social engineering activities need to end now by withdrawing Amendment #39, and to reject, on April 12, the contract zone for even smaller tiny houses (500 sf), and a multi-year house building and property management experiment by an inexperienced nonprofit that is far outside their area of expertise. Good intentions, without common sense nor resident consultation, have resulted in a convoluted plan that will needlessly destroy a wetland habitat, damage two watersheds, and encroach on sight lines, on and off site, of the historic Gen. Davis Tillson home.

B. Stewart Mogel, Rockland, ME



If you wish to comment, please login.
Note: If you signed up using our new subscriber portal, your username is the email address you registered with and your password is in all caps