Leland leaves Freeport shellfish panel

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FREEPORT— Doug Leland addressed the Town Council for the last time as chairman of the Shellfish Conservation Commission on Tuesday night to ask councilors to adopt the changes made to the Municipal Shellfish Ordinance approved by the commission May 11.

The Town Council approved the amendments unanimously, including the change in qualification age for resident and non-resident senior licenses from 70 to 65. 

After serving three terms on the commission, two as chairman, Leland submitted his letter of resignation, effective June 21, to Town Manager Peter Joseph last week.

“(You) really thought out of the box about what would be good for Freeport,” Council Chairwoman Sarah Tracy said. “I know that it wasn’t easy and that oftentimes you were met by resistance, but we do appreciate your hard work and your articulation of your ideas.”

In other business, the council voted 5-1 to hold a public hearing July 11 to receive public input on the proposed prohibition of retail marijuana establishments and social clubs.

Councilor John Egan felt said use of “potential prohibition” in the ordinance would deter the start of any dialogue and opposed the motion. Councilor Bill Rixon abstained.

The council Tuesday also heard from Deputy Fire Chief Paul Conley on the Fire Department’s request that Sugarloaf Ambulance/Rescue Vehicles serve as a broker for the town to sell a 2012 Chevrolet G4500 Type III ambulance.

The council moved 6-0 to amend the ordinance to state that the broker would only be used after the council exhausts all reasonable options to sell the vehicle. Rixon abstained as he was not in the room at the time the amendment was made. 

The ordinance was approved unanimously.

Councilor Scott Gleeson moved to make a last-minute change to the town’s fiscal year 2018 budget by adding a $1,000 donation to support the Freeport Historical Society.

“(The historical society does) preserve the character of our time passed and I think provides a material benefit to this town because we always talk about keeping our soul and they help us do that,” Tracy said. “I certainly support a $1,000 donation.”

Ultimately the motion failed 4-3, with Gleeson, Tracy, and Councilor Melanie Sachs in the minority. The nearly $10.8 million fiscal year 2018 budget was unanimously approved by the council; it includes a projected 4-cent increase in the property tax rate, to $15.80 per $1,000 of valuation.

In a workshop prior to the meeting, Town Planner Donna Larson and councilors discussed the Parking Committee’s report on downtown parking.

Because any recommended changes to the report will come from the Planning Board, she asked, on behalf of the members, for feedback from the council.

Councilors agreed that the recommendations outlined in the report, specifically the “phased elimination of the ‘grandfathering’ of downtown businesses that do not meet the parking requirements in the zoning ordinance,” should be explored by the committee. However, some felt strongly that the eight-year plan created in 2016 was too long.

“Now it’s time to get the entire Planning Board up to speed on this and then start bringing people in,” Larson said. “(The issue of downtown parking) is usually a topic that starts public discussion.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.