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Select Board debates gun range foreclosure, Kinney returns

By Christine Simmonds | Feb 14, 2020
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Nick Hodgkins of the Department of Environmental Protection discusses cleanup of the former rifle range at the Warren Selectmen meeting Feb. 12.

Warren — Bill Longfellow and Nick Hodgkins of the Department of Environmental Protection spoke to the Warren Board of Selectmen at their bi-weekly meeting Feb. 12 regarding cleanup efforts at the former gun range on Route 90.

For several years, the town annually discussed the possibility of foreclosing this property due to back taxes. Each year it goes to the town as a warrant item at the town meeting, and the town votes against it due to possible liability issues.

Longfellow said he has been involved in the site for the past “three or four years.” The DEP is currently engaged in cleanup enforcement on the property, and has a contract with Farley and Sons Landscaping Inc. to haul material from the site to Dragon Cement to be burned.

Longfellow said the contract is still going and the DEP hopes to remove as much material as possible, though that will leave some material still at the site.

Dragon is currently shut down, but as soon as they are able Longfellow said Farley would start hauling again.

Longfellow spoke with both companies, and said “Farley will haul as much as Dragon can burn… We’re just waiting for Dragon to open again.”

Longfellow said one load was hauled – about sixteen tons – and the contract with Farley is for per ton removed.

Chairman Roger Peabody asked how many tons were left to clear from the site.

Longfellow said there was still “a lot” left.

Selectman Brent Pratt said the amount in the contract with Farley would “not even come close” to covering the removal of all the material. Longfellow agreed.

Pratt asked what the town’s liability was if they foreclosed on the property. “Are we liable to clean it up?”

Longfellow said no.

An agreement between the DEP and the town gives Warren protection from liability from the violations that have occurred.

Hodgkins spoke about the DEP findings on the property. He said they found Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, called PFAS, on the property. These are known as “forever chemicals” because “once they get in the environment, they are gonna be there for a while.”

Hodgkins listed options for the town to take on the property moving forward.

Hodgkins also spoke about possible cleanup grants and loans that were available to assist the town with the property, but first the town has to acquire the property.

Hodgkins said the DEP would have more information for the board by December to help them make a decision regarding the property, and he and Longfellow are also available to answer questions.

Peabody said he was sure the board would invite Hodgkins and Longfellow back again to discuss the matter.

In other business, Selectman James Kinney was present. Kinney has been absent from meetings due to medical leave since November 2019.

Resident Richard Butler said he was glad to see Kinney at the meeting and he hoped Kinney would continue to attend.

The minutes from Jan. 29 were approved, and the warrants were signed.

Dan Swindler, chairman of the Warren Scholarship Committee, was present to review the updated committee rules and procedures. These updates included corrections and the addition of a vice-chairman.

The board accepted the revised rules and procedures.

Recreation Director John Leach was present to discuss the procedure for purchasing a new mower.

Peabody asked Leach to do more research on the cost of new machines and the value of the old mower.

The board reviewed the liquor license renewal of the Saint George River Cafe.

Board of Selectmen Vice Chairman Wayne Luce said he would like to see a representative from the cafe at the meeting before they approved the renewal. He said someone from the cafe was not present last year for the license renewal either.

The board decided to table the issue until the next meeting. Peabody said he would contact the cafe and ask someone to attend the Selectmen meeting Feb. 26.

The board discussed future audit contracts. Ron Smith of RHR Smith told Town Manager Sherry Howard he would do the audit this year at the same price as last year with no contract. He said he would like to engage with the town for two years, with a 3% increase each year.

Selectman Jan Macdonald said Smith knows the town and the history, and he seemed “on the ball.”

Peabody agreed he has been great to work with.

Resident Ed LaFlamme said that offer was very good deal, and seemed like a “no brainer.”

Pratt asked if Smith was going to update the financial plan.

Howard said she had not discussed that with him yet.

Pratt said he would like to know what Smith’s thoughts are on updating the financial plan.

Howard said the cost of updating the financial plan would likely be separate from the audit.

Pratt said he would like to know the cost of those services if the town was going to contract with him for the next three years.

The board decided to table the discussion until Smith could come before the board and address further questions regarding his services.

The board voted to sign a Cemetery Quit Claim Deed for Sawyer Cemetery Lot C-36 with no discussion.

At the last meeting the board voted to move Concealed Weapons Permits to the state level. Howard reached out to the State Police and learned that they cut back their staff for such items, and would not go into contract with Warren or any other towns that they did not already have a contract with.

This means the town has to review and process Concealed Weapons Permits.

Macdonald asked if this meant the board had to erase or negate their previous vote.

LaFlamme said the board had to instead make a motion to issue the permits through the town, as they could not undo a previously voted on motion.

The board voted that the Selectmen are responsible for assigning the permits for the town of Warren.

There were agenda items to vote on an abatement and supplemental property and supplemental tax penalty. However, the board voted to table those discussions until the assessing agent Jim Murphy could be asked for clarification on the items.

Howard gave the Town Manager report. She said she talked with the First National Wealth Management, and they are in the process of transferring funds from Camden National Bank.

Howard also showed the board pictures of Robert Johnson for a plaque in his memory.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Jeannie L. Wood | Feb 14, 2020 14:14

This is in reference to selectman vice chairman Wayne Luce, not sure why he feels to put in his two cents worth about the cafe not being present for their liquor license, it's not like they are trashing the town. Here he is a rep for our town & he drives around dumping garbage all over the roads with his business. No respect for his townspeople or the land. I have spoken with officials of the town of Warren & have gotten no were. There is no reason to not have a tarp or canvas cover over the trash truck he rides around in. I have taken pictures & sent them to the town with his garbage dangling out of his truck ,falling off & still nothing is done. If he is not going to do anything about it , then he should not be a rep for our town....Selectmen grow some balls & straighten it out. Maybe with Mr. Pratt in there the good old boy system will go away. S Wood husband & pissed off tax payer

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