News Feature

Brooklin
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 22, 2014
Brooklin board okays Intent to Alter or Construct Structures Ordinance

by Rich Hewitt

The board of selectmen on Tuesday, May 6, approved a proposed Intent to Alter or Construct Structures Ordinance, setting the stage for a vote on the measure.

The ordinance would require anyone who plans to alter, construct or expand an existing structure in the town to file a notice of intent form with the code enforcement officer. Alterations are considered any change that increases the assessed value of the real estate by $250 or more.

The purpose, stated in the ordinance itself, is to ensure fairness in property taxation. There is no fee attached to the “intent” form, but anyone who does not comply would be subject to paying back taxes on the improvements, plus interest. In addition, they would face a fine of $1,000 to be levied by the selectmen.

Approval of the ordinance by the board will send the proposed document to town voters after a public hearing. According to Chairman Albie Smith, no date has been set for either the hearing or a special town meeting.

The board balked at a call from the nonprofit organization OneHancock to attend a meeting later this month to discuss the allocation of funds earmarked for heating assistance. According to Smith, the funds are part of an allocation to the county from a wind project in the northern part of the county. A portion of the $10,000 earmarked for heating assistance will be used for grants to towns, such as Brooklin, that have a formal committee overseeing heating assistance. If the town can raise $1,000 in new funding for its Warmer Brooklin Fund, it would receive $500 from the OneHancock fund.

The remainder of those funds, estimated at about $7,000, is to be distributed throughout the county, and the planned meeting will determine how to allocate those funds. Smith said the amounts will be so small that the board’s time would be better spent on raising funds for the Warmer Brooklin Fund.

Deborah Brewster noted that the wind farm (Boston-based First Wind, which operates five locations in Maine) will provide funding to the county each year, so there will be funds available to the towns on an ongoing basis. But she agreed and said that “none of us needs any more meetings to go to.”

Smith said that the Warmer Brooklin Fund has dropped to about $8,000 and he suggested establishing a citizens committee to work with on a fundraising effort. The key project for that group, he said, likely would be drafting a fundraising letter to be sent out to town residents. The board agreed to form a five-member committee.

The board also approved the bid package for the roof project at the town office and will invite contractors in Brooklin to submit bids.

Smith reported that he and Brewster had attended a public hearing on the Safe Routes to School plan. The current version of the plan proposes a safe walkway from the school driveway to the library, a crosswalk at the library to the store with the walkway continuing to the post office.

The town will have to wait for cost figures from the state before it knows how much its share of the project and the construction timetable will be, he said.

The board began the meeting with a formal expression of sympathy from the town to the family of former selectman Richard Freethey who passed away that morning. Smith noted that, in addition to his role as selectman, Freethey had been active in a number of town activities and had served as the president of the Brooklin Keeping Society and as chairman of the veterans’ gravesite committee.

“He had a huge impact on the community,” Smith said. “On behalf of the community, we express our sympathy to the family on his passing.”