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Pay-per-bag trash disposal not in Cape Elizabeth's future

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Pay-per-bag trash disposal not in Cape Elizabeth's future

CAPE ELIZABETH — After months of research, public comment and discussions, the Town Council reached consensus in a workshop Monday that a pay-per-bag trash disposal program should not be pursued.

Councilors in a workshop also urged Central Maine Power Co. to hold off on installation of so-called "smart" electric meters.

Chairwoman Anne Swift-Kayatta said councilors did not hear a lot of support for the pay-per-throw program from the public.

Councilor Jim Walsh said the proposal was a council goal and a way to explore revenue-generating ideas.

"We needed this discussion and the attention it received," he said. "Maybe we can reinstate the goal next year in a different manner."

Councilor David Sherman said the proposal was a good idea, but the community may not have been ready for it at this time.

Councilor Penny Jordan, who is leaving the council, said her work with the Recycling Committee and ecomaine were the highlights of her service. She encouraged a compost proposal and said residents should focus on reducing their kitchen and organic waste.

"Maybe we start small," she said of a future compost project. "But it is something we should entertain."

In addition to the pay-per-bag issue, the council in its regular business meeting on Monday, Nov. 8, is expected to consider a resolution opposing the installation of so-called "smart" electric meters by Central Maine Power Co., and will discuss the Comprehensive Plan's recreation and open space chapter.

Smart meters

The smart meter resolution, similar to one adopted recently by the Scarborough Town Council, states that residents are concerned about health and privacy aspects of smart meters and urges CMP to not install the meters on homes for at least 90 days.

It also urges the Maine Public Utilities Commission to provide an appropriate forum for residents to voice their positions on smart meters before the devices are installed in town.

CMP received a $96 million grant from the federal government as part of the Smart Grid Investment Grant program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program will replace older meters that have dials with digital meters, or smart meters, that use digital technology and wireless signals to measure and record the amount of electricity used in a home or business.

The meters communicate with each other and broadcast signals sent by antennas and repeaters to CMP's Augusta office. They have already been installed on more than 15,000 homes in the greater Portland area. CMP plans to install meters on all 620,000 homes in its service area by 2012.

Since CMP began installing the smart meters, there have been two challenges filed with the PUC.

Open space

Councilors on Monday agreed that a collaborative effort between the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, the Cape Farm Alliance and the Conservation Commission would be necessary to assess farmland, open space and trails.

A plan to hire a consultant to evaluate costs of town development versus open space and to appoint a committee to research and enhance open space should take about six months, they decided.

After all the parties work to define rural areas, its impact on farmers and other land owners and the benefits and restrictions of changing the plan, the Town Council will decide on and implement the open space recommendations.

The council meeting on Monday will be in the Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.

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