Bath postpones council meeting to Feb. 14

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BATH — Wednesday’s snowstorm forced postponement of the City Council’s regular monthly meeting by one week.

The panel will instead meet in the City Hall Council Chambers at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Among agenda items will be the second contract approval for new City Manager Peter Owen. The council last month unanimously promoted the former Public Works director from the interim manager position — which he held since Bill Giroux’s departure last July — to the permanent role.

Owen’s two-year contract, which requires two approvals, stipulates a starting salary of $116,000, which includes a 2 percent cost of living adjustment all employees received Jan. 1.

The City Council is also due next week to vote on a $4.7 million bid from Apex Construction for this year’s city wastewater treatment plant update. Funds from a $9.8 million bond approved by city voters in November 2015 are going toward the project, which includes constructing a new sludge storage tank and replacing sludge de-watering equipment as well as chemical storage and feeding systems.

The purchase of a 2016 Schwarze Tornado street sweeper from HP Fairfield of Scarborough for $216,000 — paid by council-approved fiscal 2018 funds, and replacing a 2000 model — is also on the docket.

The first of two required passages of a pair of ordinances will additionally go before the council. One calls for a ban on parking along the west side of Washington Street between Pine Street and a point 95 feet north. From that point to an area 50 feet south of Pleasant Street, two-hour parking would be allowed.

The proposal stems from complaints the department has received regarding parking along the west side of Washington Street, between Pine and Pleasant streets, Police Chief Mike Field explained in a Jan. 30 memo to the council.

“The complaints are that vehicles exiting Pine St. are being obstructed to the north due to vehicles parked in that area,” he wrote. “This is causing a public safety issue.”

The city’s Transportation Committee unanimously supported the ordinance Jan. 24, Field added.

Next week’s second ordinance regards a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments. The council in January 2017 decided against such a freeze, expecting the state within the next months to establish governance in the matter.

“Unfortunately, the implementation of state-level rules has taken substantially longer than expected,” Planning and Development Director Andrew Deci said in a Feb. 1 council memo. “Entrepreneurs are now pushing the boundaries of the existing medical marijuana program — opening retail storefronts and providing “retail” sales to non-patient customers. The pressure for retail storefronts to open is growing as the rules are still being developed in Augusta.”

As a result, city staff proposes a six-month moratorium on retail marijuana establishments, as well as “other non-state licensed dispensary options.”

Feb. 14’s meeting will open with three presentations: to former Councilor James Omo for nine years of service; to Capt. David Hudson for his 31 years with the Bath Fire Department, and by Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, concerning future Amtrak Downeaster plans for the Bath area.

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

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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.