Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 10, 2014
Brooklin Town Meeting
Voters pass local food ordinance, table Center Harbor easement
From left, Selectman Deborah Brewster, outgoing Selectman Mike Roy and newly elected Selectman Lori Gallo, listen to the reading of warrant articles at Brooklin Town Meeting in Maine on April 5, 2014.
by Anne Berleant
With only a handful of articles prompting discussion, residents approved 52 of 53 articles presented at town meeting on April 3 in just under three hours. Everyone was gone by noon.
An article asking voters to ratify an easement that would provide public access to Center Harbor was tabled at the request of selectmen.
“Some other opportunities and options have risen [that would] provide access to the waters of Center Harbor,” said Selectman Deborah Brewster.
The town “would like to exhaust those possibilities,” added town attorney Ed Bearor.
The proposed easement was with Steve White of Brooklin Boat Yard and provided more room for water access and parking for town residents.
“Whatever we do with this article, if we table it or vote it down, it’s not going to stop us from using this beach,” said one resident, recommending it be tabled.
A lengthier discussion surrounded the proposed Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance, which permits direct sales of locally produced food between buyer and seller, bypassing state licensing requirements.
“Those of us within a community who know one another, who can see with our own eyes…can make decisions as to their own consumption or what they feed their families,” said Hendrik Gideonse.
Several residents asked how the ordinance handled food safety issues outside of state regulations.
“Is there anything that ensures [safe products] beyond the fact that it’s a neighbor” producing the food? asked one resident.
“The oversight is formed by the parties to the transaction,” Gideonse said. “Nobody is obligated to participate.”
“It’s giving power to the people,” said Leslie Cummins of Five Star Orchards, speaking against regulations requiring cider be pasteurized.
Frank Bianco moved to vote on the article: “The truth is, it’s a symbolic vote,” he said.
The motion to end debate failed, and after further discussion, a vote on the proposed ordinance passed easily by hand vote.
Brooklin is the 11th town in Maine to pass a similar ordinance since 2011, joining, among others, Blue Hill, Brooksville, Penobscot, Sedgwick and Isle au Haut.
With little fanfare, and a few questions on rising costs, voters passed a 2014-15 school budget of $1,794,797 with one lone dissent and the school lunch program of $29,572. On the municipal side, voters approved articles totaling $791,981. Of the combined $2,616,350 budgets, taxation will raise $2,345,442—a 7.4 percent or $162,790 increase from last year.
The need for new roofs added $25,000 to the school budget for the second year running and $22,000 to the municipal budget. The school will pull $50,000 from a maintenance reserve account to cover the full cost of its new roof. The town office is also in need, said selectmen, explaining the $18,500 increase over last year’s maintenance request.
The fire department received $20,000 for its fire truck reserve account, bringing that account to $42,273, and the town asked for $35,000 more for road reconstruction and paving than last year, $20,000 of which will be placed in reserve.
All elections were uncontested, with Deborah Brewster returning as selectman and Lori Gallo filling a two-year selectman’s seat left vacant by Mike Roy’s resignation.
The town meeting was “his last hurrah,” said Town Clerk Jeannine Hardy, who was re-elected. Voters also returned Neil Allen as road commissioner and Mike Sealander to the school board.
Stacia Nevin named
‘Firefighter of the Year’
Volunteer firefighter Stacia Nevin was honored as Firefighter of the Year by the Brooklin Fire Department at town meeting on April 5.
“Stacia goes above and beyond,” said Fire Chief Sam Friend.
Nevin spent “a lot of time with the historical society,” researching the fire department’s past, Friend said.
In addition, “she’s dedicated to the EMS program of the fire department, making sure [it’s] running well.”
Friend added that half of the calls received by the fire department are Emergency Medical Service calls.
Nevin said she was surprised at the honor. “Usually we discuss it ahead of time. It never struck me that [this year] we hadn’t.”