News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 27, 2014
Brooklin Town Meeting
Center Harbor easement on Brooklin town meeting warrant

A proposed easement to the town at Center Harbor will be among the warrant articles facing voters when they gather for the annual town meeting.

Voting for municipal officers will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 4, at the town office. Discussion of the warrant articles will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 5, at the school gymnasium.

The easement from Steve White at Brooklin Boat Yard would give town residents better access to the waters of Center Harbor. Although some of the details are still under discussion, the agreement will give a permanent easement to the town that will provide more room for water access and additional, dedicated parking for town residents. The proposed easement area abuts an existing easement from the boatyard near the town-maintained boat ramp.

According to Selectman Albie Smith, the agreement will allow the town to allocate several parking spots for the use of town residents. Although town residents have the right to park in the existing easement area, most of those spots are taken early in the day by boatyard workers.

There is an existing wall along the waterfront where people already park, and, as part of the agreement, the town will build a new wall to provide space for the additional parking. Voter acceptance of the easement commits the town to build the wall, although the selectmen have indicated that they will come back for voter approval when they have a firm price on the project.

That work impacts the budget this year. The board has recommended increasing the funding in the town landings account from $5,000 to $18,000. Smith said the project will require engineering work, and the town will likely have to conduct an environmental study before work can begin.

Some of that additional funding will be used to conduct an environmental study at the end of Naskeag Point Road in connection with a planned project to increase parking near the town dock there.

In a separate article, voters will be asked to ratify the right-of-way agreements on the Center Harbor Road that already have been signed by the abutters. Those release deeds establish the boundaries of the town-owned Center Harbor Road and will end decades of uncertainty about the road boundaries and town ownership of tidal lands. The matter was tabled at the 2013 town meeting.

Another, new article this year will ask voters to adopt a local food ordinance. The Local Food and Community Self-governance Ordinance is similar to those passed in the neighboring towns of Blue Hill, Brooksville, Isle au Haut, Penobscot, and Sedgwick, as well as other towns around the state. It would exempt food producers from state licensing requirements as long as the sale of the food items is between the farmer who produced the food and a willing consumer for home consumption.

The proposed town budget this year is $795,481, not including the county tax. That represents an increase of $48,203 from the current budget.

Road work accounts for a big portion of that increase. The paving and reconstruction account is up $15,000, from $75,000 to $90,000. In a separate article, the board recommends establishing a paving and reconstruction reserve account with a $20,000 allocation.

The goal, Smith said during a review of the warrant articles, is to build up that reserve account so funding is available for work on some of the longer roads in town.

Road Commissioner Neil Allen worked with the Lane Corporation and determined the town can expect to spend, on average, about $110,000 annually on paving and reconstruction of town roads. The increase in the regular account and the $20,000 in the reserve account match that estimate.

Selectman Deborah Brewster said in creating the reserve account, the board expects to fund that account each year at the $20,000 level.

The account for town office maintenance will increase this year if voters approve the budget as recommended. That account will increase from $3,500 to $22,000 and reflects plans to shingle the town office roof.