Falmouth council to review property bids in private; fireworks ban, poultry rules considered

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FALMOUTH — The Town Council will review bids for the former Plummer-Motz and Lunt school buildings in private executive sessions before deciding which bid to accept.

The council decided unanimously Monday night to seal the bids from public scrutiny until negotiations between potential bidders and the town are complete. After that, there will be a public hearing on the proposals before a bid is accepted.

Additionally, councilors discussed a possible ban on the sale and use of consumer fireworks and an ordinance amendment that would allow homeowners to raise hens and other poultry.

Despite the contentious nature of the topic in the past, no one spoke Monday night at a public hearing before the council’s discussion of the bidding process for the former school properties.

“I think what this does is it allows for public comment, by having a public hearing after we’ve had a chance to look at the bids and had some negotiation with the people who have responded to the proposal request,” Councilor Bonny Rodden said. “But it allows us as a council to meet privately to negotiate.”

Rodden said she’d like to have a separate public hearing two weeks before the council decides which bid to accept.

Councilors Chris Orestis and Tony Payne agreed, and the proposal passed unanimously. Councilor Will Armitage and Council Chairwoman Teresa Pierce were absent.

Back-yard chickens

The council also took up an ordinance change that would allow hens and other poultry, except roosters, in all of the town’s residential zones.

Poultry is now allowed in some residential zones. The change would allow any residential lot larger than 40,000 square feet to have poultry, and place restrictions on all lots smaller than 40,000 square feet.

The restrictions include 20-foot setbacks from lot lines, no more than one chicken coop, and any stored chicken manure must be in a closed structure or bin.

Roosters are not allowed in residential zones, but are allowed in the Farm and Forest zones.

The will be a public hearing on the proposal on Nov. 14.

Additionally, the council held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would ban the sale and use of consumer fireworks in town. No one spoke during the hearing.

“I say to the state, ‘you have to be kidding,'” Councilor Fred Chase said, referring to the law legalizing fireworks in the state. It takes effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

“My prediction is, in two years, they’ll have to change it back,” Chase said.

Portland, South Portland and North Yarmouth have also restricted the sale and use of fireworks, and several other towns in the greater Portland area are considering bans.

The provision appears to have majority support and the council will vote on the ban at its meeting on Nov. 14.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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