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Votes on Gilford Butler, junky yard law may wait until 2021

By Stephen Betts | May 17, 2020
The former Gilford Butler School in South Thomaston

South Thomaston — The uncertainty of holding an annual town meeting could lead to decisions about the future of the Gilford Butler School being postponed until next year.

The Board of Selectmen discussed the issue at its May 12 online meeting but no decision was made.

Board Chair Walter Reitz said he would recommend the Gilford Butler articles that were to be on the 2020 town meeting warrant be put off until 2021.

"I would push it to 2021 so we can have a real South Thomaston town meeting, so townspeople can discuss it," Reitz said.

"These are significant important issues," he said.

A date for the town meeting or how it will be held has not been decided. The meeting had been scheduled for March 31 but was postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Town officials said they were still awaiting guidance from the state. The town has its attorney looking at how to operate a town meeting safely, effectively, and legally. He said it would be helpful if the governor would approve the Maine Municipal Association's recommendation to allow absentee voting for town meeting articles.

At that meeting, Reitz said the warrant could contain only the financial articles, the creation of a new reserve account, authorization for borrowing to pay for LED streetlight conversion, and election of officers.

Reitz said the election of officers is challenging because there are no nominees for both the selectman post, and a representative to the Regional School Unit 13 Board. The selectmen seat is the one held currently by Cheryl Waterman who did not take out nomination papers for another term. Reitz said current RSU 13 Board member Ryan Minikis has decided not to be a write-in candidate for a full term of the RSU Board. His term has expired and the seat is currently vacant.

Minikis was appointed to the seat by selectmen in November, filling the seat that had vacant since April 2019 when Jason McLean resigned.

The Gilford Butler articles that were to be on the warrant would ask residents if they will support the creation of a Community Center Facility Committee to plan and raise money for either the renovation of the former school building or to pay for a new community center building on the property that would house the library as well as general purpose community space.

Another article would authorize selectmen to relocate the town library to Gilford Butler for up to five years.

A third article would ask voters how much, if any, money they would support raising to prepare the building for the temporary relocation of the town library. The amount of money to be raised would be decided at the meeting. The town budget committee voted 6-2 not to raise any money for the move.

Gilford Butler was built in 1955. The building served as a school until 2018 and was replaced by the Ash Point Community School in Owls Head.

The Gilford Butler Futures Committee issued recommendations last year for the building.

An ordinance that was to be on the warrant would regulate junk accumulating in yards. The proposal is aimed at reducing the amount of solid waste materials, junk and any organic materials stored in front yards which pose a health or safety threat or which are otherwise offensive.  Lobster traps and fishing gear are specifically exempt from the provisions of  the article.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Vince Papsidero | May 18, 2020 19:21

There are clearly some property owners in Rockland who know how to work the legal system to maintain their eyesore properties.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | May 17, 2020 09:44

It's okay to have junk as long as it is in the backyard? We have similar codes in Rockland. As long as it can't be seen by passersby such as tourist and code officers you are golden

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