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News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 30, 2011
Sedgwick special town meeting
Voters address funds for Walker Pond access, plow contracts

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by Bette Britt

The historic Town House was set up with rows of settees for a special town meeting on Thursday, June 23, but there were only nine citizens present, including the three selectmen and road commissioner. David Anderson was elected moderator and sworn in by town clerk Cynthia Reilly.

Of the nine warrant articles to be voted, the first five concerned access to Walker Pond, a project set in motion by the 1994 purchase from Gifford Foster of a 28-acre parcel of land with shore frontage; there was no access, however.

Although periodically discussed over the ensuing years, gaining access didn’t become vigorously pursued until after the turn of the century, when the town of Sedgwick sought, and in 2007 received, a report from engineer Andrew McCullough. The report outlined what needed to be done to attain the goal of public access to Walker Pond, including protection of wetlands and necessary permits. Rights-of-way had to be obtained from landowners, as well, and in the process an alliance was struck with the Town of Brooksville to share the costs and benefits of the site.

The June 23 special town meeting was a clear sign that not only had progress been made, but that the goal of obtaining public access to Walker Pond was figuratively in sight. The first six warrant articles dealt with finalizing acquisition of land for a right-of-way to the shore. They did this by accepting a triangular piece of land between the end of the town way crossing the Cooper Farm, now owned by Blue Hill Heritage Trust, and land deeded to the town by Basil Ladd, Successor Trustee under the will of James S. Condon on May 26, 2010.

The land had been surveyed by Richard Bowden, PLS, and his plan was posted with the warrant, along with Ladd’s deed. The nine voters were unanimous in approving that warrant article, as they were the third warrant article, which authorized selectmen to deed Ladd et al. a 60-ft.-wide right-of-way over two parcels of land owned by the town, including the original land purchased in 1994 and the triangular piece conveyed to the town by Ladd last May. In recommending passage of this article, selectmen wrote that it was part of the exchange between Ladd, as trustee, “which described the joint town landing project between the Town of Sedgwick and the Town of Brooksville.”

The fourth warrant article prompted the evening’s only question from a citizen, when Linda Long asked about stated “50 ft. and 100-ft.-wide storm-water buffer easements on the downside gradient of the right-of-way” being offered by Ladd. Pert explained they were necessary to divert storm-water runoff, keeping it out of Walker Pond.

A utility service easement was also part of the fourth warrant article; Ladd et al. will also be entitled to use this right-of-way. Voters unanimously agreed.

The fifth and sixth warrant articles covered construction of the road and included expending funds as mapped out in the previously approved inter-local agreement, in which Sedgwick will convey “a one-half undivided interest in the town-owned lands, rights-of-way and easements” to Brooksville, whose voters will need to approve acceptance of that conveyance. The two towns will share the costs of construction. Unanimous agreement again marked the Sedgwick vote, as it did when asked to appropriate $26,570 from surplus for the town’s share of clearing the right-of-way, placing erosion controls and road construction to Walker Pond.

The seventh and eighth warrant articles involved amending fee schedules of the Shoreland Zoning and Site Plan Review Ordinances. Voters approved requests to charge $45 for small items, such as decks and minor things that need attention from the Code Enforcement Officer, and $200 for large projects, like development of undeveloped lots. Site Plan Review projects were rated $50 for small, such as “in-house cottage business with no major expansion of structure or site”; $100 for those listed as medium for expansions no greater than 30-percent; and $200-plus cost of research or studies as determined by the planning board for major development or undeveloped lots.

The final and ninth warrant article sought authorization for selectmen to enter into two contracts for a period of not more than four years to provide winter road maintenance “on such terms as they deem to be in the Town’s best interest”. Provision is made for two separate contracts not to exceed $344,810 or a combined total of two contracts, which do not exceed $689,620.

The special town meeting was adjourned at 7:45 p.m.