Vassalboro Select Board
Minutes of the Virtual Meeting
December 10, 2020

Members Present: Rob Browne, John Melrose, and Barbara Redmond

Others logged on to Participate: Mary Sabins, David Trask (virtual meeting host), Jessica Reed, Kevin & Linsey Gervais, Gene Field, Dan Belyea, and Tina Wood. Other members of the public are anticipated to have observed the meeting being broadcast live online via YouTube; the actual number of which are unknown.

1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman John Melrose at 6:36 pm. Due to the Covid-19 (Corona virus) national pandemic with increasingly high infection rates, the Board returned to virtual meetings for an unspecified length of time. A temporary change in State Law passed by the Legislature months ago remains in effect that allows the provision for these remote video-conference meetings to accomplish town business. Each vote taken is required to be taken by roll call vote, which Chairman Melrose asked Sabins to do for each vote taken.

2. Minutes – On a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously to accept the minutes of the 10/28/20 meeting as written.

3. Sherwood Lane Residents to request ordinance changes – Chairman Melrose began the discussion by stating that changes to the Marijuana and Subdivision Ordinances are required to be presented at the annual town meeting for adoption. He further stated that the Select Board can recommend changes, but the voters are the final decision makers. Action to amend ordinances should get underway soon if they are to be presented at town meeting in June. As spokesperson for the Sherwood Lane subdivision residents, Jessica Reed stated that their interest lies in amendments to the Marijuana Ordinance to restrict the number of marijuana grow operations that can be permitted in the Town of Vassalboro, and to add a provision to the Subdivision Ordinance to prohibit marijuana grow facilities in subdivisions and adjacent properties. They also would like to know how existing facilities are monitored. Chairman Melrose asked Sabins about other needed amendments to the existing Marijuana Ordinance to which she explained that the definition and use of the word “retail” in the existing policy has caused some confusion. Town Attorney Kristin Collins has advised that more current and updated language is available to help with clarification on this term usage. She is willing to assist the town to revise the Marijuana Ordinance. When asked by Chairman Melrose, both Board Members R. Browne and B. Redmond agreed they were willing to include the town attorney in preparing Marijuana Ordinance amendments. Sherwood Lane Resident Dan Belyea expressed discontent with the recent Planning Board meeting where it was so difficult to hear and participate. He was very uncomfortable with the process. He purchased a home in Vassalboro and never expected to be in the situation he is in now with a marijuana grow operation in his neighborhood. He wants to prohibit marijuana grow facilities in other subdivisions and adjacent property so others won’t have to go through what the Sherwood Lane residents are going through now with having a marijuana grow operation pop up in their residential neighborhood on a dead-end dirt road. Selectman Browne stated he feels it would be good to include the Planning Board in the Subdivision Ordinance language changes. It felt it would be good to help folks out to retain the value of their homes and maintain their quality of life. Board Member Barbara Redmond stated that she had driven through both grow house locations (Sherwood Lane and Old Meadows Road) owned by the permit holder today. She understands the concerns of the residents on Sherwood Lane and she is all for making recommendations to the Planning Board. Chairman Melrose asked for a motion to refer the matter to the Planning Board for subdivision amendments to address concerns of the Sherwood Lane Residents in conjunction with the Town Manager and the Town Attorney. Rob Browne moved the motion as stated by Chairman Melrose and B. Redmond seconded it. By roll-call vote, the Board voted unanimously to approve the motion. The Sherwood Lane residents then thanked the Board and asked questions about the Appeal process for the grow facility permit that was issued. Sabins explained the process and informed the group they should start by seeking out the Code Officer for an appeal application.

4. Personnel Handbook – Sabins explained the State’s new Earned Paid Leave Law (26 MRS Section 637 – effective 1/1/21) that results in language changes needed in the town’s personnel policy. All references to Vacation time will be changed to Earned Paid Leave. The proposed Handbook revisions have been reviewed by the Town Attorney Kristin Collins. She also made suggestions for additional amendments to organize the flow of information and definitions in the Handbook, which Sabins incorporated into the draft being proposed tonight. One 15-hour per week part-time employee is affected by the new law and will now receive 1 hour of earned paid leave time for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year as required by the new law. Other current employees are already accruing leave time at levels that exceed the Earned Paid Leave Law requirements. Late in the Handbook amendment process, PW Director Gene Field offered other amendments he feels the Board should consider. B. Redmond stated that there was not enough time to address Gene’s requested changes now but could be addressed during budget season. Gene explained his desire to have town employee benefits (not just earned paid leave time) meet the level of school employee benefits. He stated he brought the topic up last year but it was too late in the budget season. He wants to get the discussion started earlier, rather than wait until budget season. The Board agreed to put the topic on their January 7th meeting agenda. After discussion and on a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously by roll call to approve and adopt the Personnel Handbook as presented by the Town Manager.

5. Covid-19 Policy on Rec field closure – This topic was carried forward as unfinished business from the last Board meeting that was cancelled. There being no discussion, on a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously by roll call to accept the Covid-19 Town-Owned Non-School Fields Closure Policy as presented by the Town Manager.

6. Appointments – On a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously by roll call to approve the following appointments and for the terms specified: Kevin Reed appointed to the Appeals Board until June 30, 2021 and Paul Oxley appointed to the Trails Committee until June 30, 2021.

7. Holiday hours – Sabins requested that the Board consider giving all town staff additional paid holiday time this year all day on Thursday, December 24th and closing town operations at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 31st. After brief discussion, and on a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously by roll call to approve the additional holiday time as requested by Sabins. B. Redmond suggested advertising the town office closure as soon as possible for those residents who might desire to purchase IFW licenses as gifts for Christmas who are late shoppers.

8. Abatements – It was noted the Assessor had prepared two tax abatements for the Board to approve dating back to 2018 and 2019 taxes. The accounts were considered uncollectible as the mobile homes have been dismantled and no longer exist. On a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously by roll call to abate the 2018 taxes, interest and costs for Tracy Brown. On a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously by roll call to abate the 2018 and 2019 taxes, interest, and costs for Barbara Hammond (Heirs of).

9. Topics for discussiona.) Civil War monument – Chairman Melrose stated that he has been conversing with Historical Society President Jan Clowes about restoration of the Civil War Monument on Rt. 32 in Memorial Park next to the Historical Society Building near China Lake Boat Launch. Jan has collected some prices for different stages of repair work that needs to be done to the statue such as repairing his nose, the bottom corner of the soldier’s cloak, reshaping the cloak where the rifle was attached, and replacing the rifle that is no longer on the statue. Three separate stage prices from the stone artist for this repair work have been obtained. The two smaller price tags total $7175, which if the town split the bill with the Historical Society, would cost the Town $3,588. The restoration work to replace the rifle would add an additional $21,325 for a total cost of $28,500. Selectman Browne stated that he could not justify spending $28K on the project, but could agree to the $3,588 price for the smaller repair projects. B. Redmond agreed. All members agreed it would be nice to have the projects completed in time for the Town’s 250th birthday celebration next year. The possibility of fund raising for the $3,588 repair work was suggested. No formal action was taken by the Board on this topic tonight. Chairman Melrose stated he would convey the sentiments of the Board back to the Historical Society in time enough for their Board of Director’s next meeting when they will discuss whether to partner with the Town on this historical restoration project. b.) Recreation area parking lot – Chairman Melrose stated that he has discussed with PW Director Gene Field options to improve the travel surface of the Town Recreation Field driveway and parking lot. Gene recommends purchasing a crushed stone product called Blue Stone from Pike and combining it with some gravel and calcium, which would cost an estimated $5,500 to $6,000, but will give a firm solid top coat. It is much more economical than paving the surface. R. Browne asked if the town grader could be used to smooth out the potholes if that is the issue with the driveway. Chairman Melrose stated that this project was his idea, rather than a complaint received from a member of the public; he is interested in dressing up the area. When asked, R. Browne stated he was not interested in funding the project at the moment, but did not object to the suggestion to bring the idea forward to the Budget Committee at budget time in a month or two.

10. Reports – Without discussion and on a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously by roll call to approve all the department reports together in one motion as presented.

11. Treasurer’s Warrants – On a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B Redmond, the Board voted unanimously by roll call to approve the warrant dated December 10, 2020.

12. Other1. On a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously by roll call to cast a vote for Sophie Wilson of Orono to renew her term as a Director of the Municipal Review Committee of which the Town of Vassalboro is a member. 2. Chairman Melrose informed the Board that the bid packages for the Gray Road culvert project are out and available to qualified contractors. The bids are due January 5th and the Board will review results at their January 7th meeting. 3. Melrose stated that he has communicated with officials at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy (MCJA) concerning the use of their property for discharge of a fireworks display during the town’s 250th birthday celebration next summer. The MCJA Officials were initially receptive to the idea, but needed more information about the plan and numbers in attendance before approval could be given. Melrose stated that Fire Chief Walker Thompson will talk with some pyrotechnicians that he knows about a possible fireworks display and the costs involved.

13. Adjourn – The Board Members wished each other Happy Holidays as this was the last meeting of the calendar year. There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.


These minutes were read and accepted by the Select Board on 1/7/21 with the following amendments: None.