Border dispute makes Town Meeting warrant
Voters to pick selectman, decide funding for wind turbine, Mitchell Field cleanup
HARPSWELL — Voters attending Town Meeting on March 14 will be asked if they want to resume a border dispute with Brunswick that was settled 10 years ago by the state Legislature.
Also slated for voters' consideration are funding for a proposed wind turbine near the town offices, approval of nearly $13,600 for maintenance and operations at Mitchell Field and $10,000 for an expansion of the Orr's Island Library.
Voters will also elect a new member to the Board of Selectmen, a road commissioner and a member of the School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors.
The warrant is not finalized. Still under consideration is an item that would strengthen residents' ability to recall elected officials. The language for the amendment is being drafted by the town's Governance Committee. Once finalized, the Board of Selectmen will decide if the item will be sent to Town Meeting.
According to Town Administrator Kristi Eiane, the recall amendment has generated significant discussion during meetings and a recent public hearing. Proponents of the amendment say the town's current ordinance makes it too difficult to remove a public official unless the official is convicted of a crime – a process that could extend beyond the official's term of office.
Opponents say new language would make it too easy for residents to remove an official simply based on policy disputes.
The majority of the warrant is set.
The border dispute centers on a slice of intertidal land on Middle Bay and involves harvesting rights to significant clam flats. Harpswell challenged the border in the 1990s. The matter was thought to be settled in 1998, when the Legislature ratified a compromise between the the towns.
But last year a group of former town leaders and historians known as the Carrying Place Assembly claimed the 1998 settlement was faulty.
Voters will decide if the Board of Selectmen will formally ask the Legislature to review the 1998 decision and make another determination based on new evidence.
Chairwoman Amy Haible and Selectman Dave Wallace recommended the warrant item. Selectman Jim Henderson did not.
If approved, voters will then be asked to authorize $5,000 for expenses.
Voters will also decide if they want to fund up to $50,000 to match grants for the purchase and construction of a 15-kilowatt wind turbine to power the town offices.
Henderson recommended the town appropriate $25,000 for the project, while Haible supported $5,000. Wallace didn't support funding for the project.
A $10,000 appropriation for Orr's Island Library expansion will also be decided by voters.
Also pending voter approval, the town's annual allocation to the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick will increase by more than $5,000. The library has asked the town to approve $118,881. The town's Budget Advisory Committee, as well as Haible and Henderson, supported $116,000.
Wallace did not recommend any funding for the library.
Also on tap is the possible voter ratification of a recently created Open Space Plan. While there are no ordinances attached to the plan, proponents view the document as essential to promoting the preservation of the town's natural and scenic assets.
The plan, initiated by the recent adoption of the town's Comprehensive Plan, is the result of a two-year effort by a professional consultant, town officials and residents.
Elinor Multer and David Chipman will vie for the Board of Selectmen seat being vacated by Haible.
Chipman, a former selectman, ran unsuccessfully last year in a three-way race won by Wallace.
Voters will decide between Martin Baker and Robert Venard for road commissioner.
Joanne Rogers, who sits on the SAD 75 Board of Directors, is running unopposed.
Polls open at 9 a.m. on March 14 and close at 5 p.m. Absentee ballots are available at the town office on Mountain Road.