3 North Yarmouth panels may get standing status

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NORTH YARMOUTH — The Select Board on Feb. 20 unanimously sent charter amendments that would change the status of three committees from “ad hoc” to “standing” to the April 28 annual Town Meeting.

The Town Charter currently states that all committees not listed as standing are considered to be ad hoc, which only have terms of one year, Town Manager Rosemary Roy said in an interview Feb. 22. A separate amendment going before voters in April would increase terms on ad hoc panels to two years.

The three ad hoc panels that would become standing are the Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, the North Yarmouth School Fund, and the Wescustogo Hall Committee.

When the Wescustogo Grange Hall Association turned over Wescustogo Hall in 1997, the town created a five-member committee, with staggered three-year terms, to oversee the property’s use, rules and maintenance.

But since its adoption in 2013, the Town Charter has listed that and the other two panels in question as ad hoc.

“Right now, we’ve been doing one-year terms, because we have no provision in the charter that allows for these particular committees, which are actually (unofficial) standing committees,” Roy said.

The long-running school fund group only “came under the town umbrella” in recent years, she said. The economic development panel, created under the ad hoc designation, is also one the town wants to keep running for the long term, Roy said.

North Yarmouth also is seeking an independent contractor for economic development management and consulting services, to promote itself as a community ready for careful economic growth.

“The true sense of an ad hoc committee is that there is an end to it,” Roy explained, noting, for example, that the Comprehensive Plan Committee will disband once its work is complete.

Similarly, the Wescustogo Building and Design Committee, which has been helping to design a new Wescustogo Hall to replace the one destroyed by fire in 2013, has a finite life, Roy said. The Wescustogo Hall Committee, though, would remain in place to oversee the future building.

That panel, along with the other two committees going to Town Meeting, “need that status of ‘standing’ so that they’re not accidentally dissolved for any reason,” Roy said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.