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Freeport school properties turned over to RSU 5

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Freeport school properties turned over to RSU 5

FREEPORT — The Town Council transferred three school properties to Regional School Unit 5 Tuesday night.

The council's 7-0 vote was contingent on similar votes by selectmen in Pownal and Durham.

Town Manager Dale Olmstead said he was 80 percent confident that if Maine voters decide to repeal school consolidation in a November referendum, Freeport will get the school property back from the RSU.

But if the law is overturned, he said, there has to be legislative action to undo consolidated units, which could take some time. If consolidation is repealed, the RSU has until July 1, 2011, to return Freeport High School, Freeport Middle School, Mast Landing School and Morse School to the town.

Paul Schumann, chairman of Pownal's School Administrative Unit 62, said Wednesday morning that Pownal approved the deed transfer, but removed the language regarding July 1, 2011, in case the "Legislature takes longer than that to work out the consolidation law."

Wes Bennett, chairman of the Durham Board of Selectmen, said Durham unanimously voted to approve the transfer to the RSU.

According to RSU Superindent Shannon Welsh, Durham did not have language in the deed regarding a date to return the proprerties to Durham if consolidation is repealed, because the selectmen believe the law includes that provision. 

In other business, Freeport councilors held a workshop with Town Planner Donna Larson about parking requirements and waivers. Larson outlined the history of the parking requirements since 1976 so the councilors would have background information.

"Tonight's workshop is to inform the council," she said. "Regulations have changed over the years and different buildings have different requirements."

Larson said some buildings are grandfathered and do not have have the same requirements as others, some property owners lease parking spaces, some have remote or off-site parking and still others receive credits for parking lot connections or improvements for pedestrian facilities.

Olmstead said parking in town is a "complex issue," and said staff is in the process of organizing a database of parking availability in town.

"We need to find out if there is a parking deficit, surplus or if we are OK," he said. "In order to move forward for planning, we need an inventory."

The Traffic and Parking Committee will take on the parking issue for the summer and will report to the council.

Councilors on Tuesday also:

• Voted unanimously to hold a public hearing Tuesday, July 14, to discuss changes to the Shellfish Conservation Ordinance, changes to a proposed amendment to the Public Peddler Ordinance concerning a space reserved for the Port Teen Center, and to discuss shoreland zoning ordinance changes.

• Agreed to allow the Department of Environmental Protection to train volunteers to locate pollution sources along the shoreline.

• Decided to close Town Hall  on Thursday, July 16, to complete heating system upgrades. Town Hall is already closed Fridays. The Freeport Farmer's Market will have to relocate for that week because the parking lot at Town hall will be needed for workers.

• Scheduled a workshop at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, to discuss the Freeport Chamber of Commerce.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net