News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, August 1, 2013
Blue Hill Selectmen call public hearing to deal with complaints about posted roads
Low-lying shrubbery planned for roundabout

by Faith DeAmbrose

“What is the process for removing the posted signs,” asked landscaper Larry Maxim as soon as public comment was sought at the Blue Hill Board of Selectmen’s meeting on July 26. The discussion sparked debate and ultimately led the selectmen to schedule a public hearing to add local exemptions to a recently adopted ordinance limiting vehicle weight on roadways.

Maxim was referring to the posted signs recently added to the Mountain, Turkey Farm and Range roads limiting vehicles in excess of 58,000 pounds registered weight from traveling the roadways without posting a bond. Nearly one month ago, the selectmen—after holding a public hearing—enacted an ordinance giving them the authority to post the roads after learning that multiple logging operations were planned in different parts of town. Citing concern for the integrity of the roads themselves, the selectmen obtained advice from the Maine Municipal Association and developed language for the ordinance.

After hearing from Maxim and Randy Astbury, who also operates a small business using heavy equipment, at their July 26 meeting, the selectmen conceded that the ordinance produced some unintended consequences that could inconvenience its local citizenry. Maxim spoke about his inability to receive large loads of mulch because the trucks that would bring it to his place on the Turkey Farm Road would be unable to legally deliver. He also said it could impact deliveries of concrete to those building houses, as well as trucks of full length cord wood, to give examples.

Following the Friday meeting, the selectmen again spoke with MMA, as well as administrators of the town of Bucksport (which has a similar ordinance), and called a brief meeting on Monday, July 29, solely to schedule a public hearing on Friday, August 16. According to the selectmen, they plan to propose language that would exempt the weight restrictions for deliveries to residents. The language has yet to be crafted.

The ordinance falls under the discretion of the board of selectmen, who can make changes to the document after holding a public hearing. The hearing will take place at 1:15 p.m. during the regular board meeting.

In other business at its July 26 meeting, the selectmen discussed the landscaping for the center of the roundabout. According to selectmen Vaughn Leach and Jim Schatz, the Maine Department of Transportation has proposed, in conjunction with the town’s tree warden, Phil Norris, a series of low-lying indigenous plants to fill the circular space. There will be no statue in the center, which some in the community had discussed.