Vassalboro Select Board
Minutes of the Meeting
January 7, 2021

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

Others Present: Mary Sabins, David Trask (Virtual Meeting Host), Paul Mitnik, Steve Jones, Tina Wood, Melissa & Zack Olson, Leslie & Kevin Gervais, Chris French, Peggy Horner, Eric Calderwood, Betsy Poulin, Doug Phillips, John Phillips, Marianne Stevens, Attorney Kristin Collins, David Heidrich, Mark US, Sarah Butler, Jessica Reed, and Ginny Brackett. 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 6:32 pm. Due to the Covid-19 (Corona virus) national pandemic with increasingly high infection rates, the Board continues to hold 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 12/10/20 meeting as written.

3. Marijuana Ordinance revisions – Town Attorney Kristin Collins provided a section-by-section review of the revisions she had drafted for the Marijuana Ordinance. She described this type of ordinance as a licensing ordinance and said that many towns prefer this type as it yields revenue for the town. It also would provide an opportunity for inspection of the premises and potentially reduce the number of unscrupulous business owners. Kristin suggested the Town could take a straw poll to determine if public sentiment had changed toward marijuana businesses in town to see if we are headed in the right direction with these proposed ordinance amendments. She recommended that the town work quickly to adopt these changes even if it requires calling a special town meeting because the number of requests for marijuana grow operation permits could increase quickly from applicants, knowing that ordinance changes are on the horizon. Planning Board Member Doug Phillips agreed with Kristin. After lengthy discussion, Chairman Melrose suggested providing an opportunity for the public to weigh in on the proposed ordinance. He suggested January 15th be set as a deadline for input from the public. All comments can be emailed to the Town Manager at Sherwood Lane resident Jessica Reed inquired about amendments to the Subdivision Ordinance as well that would prohibit permitting marijuana grow operations within subdivisions. Attorney Collins does not recommend this approach and prefers the regulations that are proposed in the draft Marijuana Ordinance. The Board agreed to view this topic again on their agenda in four weeks.

4. Gray Road culvert bids – Engineer Eric Calderwood read the list of five bids received and stated that he recommends awarding the bid to the low bidder Nitram Excavation for the amount of $294,768. Eric stated that his company had completed an in-house independent estimate that equated to $283K, so he felt the low bidder’s price was within reason. Discussion was given about ordering the precast culvert pieces now from Dirigo, knowing that the Town experienced a 10-week wait period for the precast pieces that were to be delivered on the Cross Hill Road stream crossing project last fall. Eric offered to ask Nitram if they were planning to source the precast culvert pieces from Dirigo. He suggested we could ask Nitram if they would be willing to wait until town meeting to enter into a full contract. He also suggested we could ask Nitram if they would be willing to enter into a smaller contract not to exceed the bid price of $294,768 to just provide the materials so that we can order the materials up front to be ready to start the job when the work window opens. The Select Board Members agreed by consensus to authorize Eric Calderwood to proceed to call Nitram and negotiate these items as he described on behalf of the Town and to report back at the next meeting.

5. Vassalboro Library – Chairman Melrose announced that this topic would be covered at an upcoming meeting rather than tonight’s meeting. Additional information had been discovered that required more research before discussion.

6. Vassalboro Conservation Commission (VCC) topicsa. Chris French introduced the topic of food waste composting at the transfer station and asked VCC member Betsy Poulin to elaborate. The VCC is hoping that during the redesign of the Transfer Station that an area will be designated for food waste composting. Betsy described a vendor named ScrapDogs in the mid-coast area that provides buckets to customers to collect the food waste in and described how the customer would receive an allotment of compost for membership fees. Sabins stated she had called the Executive Director Mike Carroll of the Municipal Review Committee (MRC) to inquire if the Town was required under contract to send all food scrap wastes to the waste plant in Hampden when it opens again. Mr. Carroll indicated we were under contract with the MRC to provide 1,300 tons of municipal solid waste each year. If we remove food waste from the waste stream, we possibly may not reach our contract minimum tonnage. No further action taken at this time. B. Holly Weidner introduced the Board to the concept of a Carbon Cash-Back program, which is designed to decrease fossil-fuel dependence throughout the economy, benefit the household budget of energy consumers, and keep local energy dollars in Maine’s economy. The program would charge producers for pollution associated with burning fossil fuels and rebating net revenues collected to all citizens on an equitable basis. Holly would like the Select Board to agree to put a Resolve on the Town Meeting warrant for voter support that would be sent to the State Legislature and Federal Congressional Delegation encouraging them to enact fossil fuel pricing legislation to speed the transition to clean energy sources to protect Maine from the increasing costs and environmental risks associated with climate change. Holly also stated that some town’s Select Boards are adopting resolutions and moving it forward, rather than taking the topic up at town meetings. Selectmen Browne and Redmond both agreed they prefer not to take time up at town meeting for this topic. It was suggested that the Board could consider signing at the next meeting a resolution that is less specific than the one presented tonight, and it could be counter-supported by the VCC. C. VCC Member Steve Jones asked for an update on the status of reestablishing the plunge pool that was eliminated during culvert replacement on the Cross Hill Road last fall. The pool was a habitat for native brook trout that he fished when he was a child and he wants it reinstalled. Steve stated that he had called Engineer Jim Foster who helped to draw the first set of culvert plans when the pool was eliminated and Jim stated he would assist with the application for the second permit to reestablish the pool. Speculation was given as to the cost for the permit and the work to replace the pool. Selectman Browne inquired how many fish were last seen in the pool, to which the answer was 8 trout. Both Selectmen Browne and Redmond stated don’t object to restoring the pool, but they were not inclined to spend thousands of dollars to do so. No further Board action was taken at this time. Sabins will call Jim Foster to determine his intent and involvement in the permit application to restore the pool.

7. VCC appointment – On a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously by roll call vote to appoint Peggy Horner to the Vassalboro Conservation Commission. Her term runs through June 30, 2021.

8. Trail Committee appointment - On a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously by roll call vote to appoint Paul Mitnik to the Vassalboro Trail Committee. His term runs through June 30, 2021.

9. Gene Field to discuss wages & benefits – Chairman Melrose informed the group that this topic has been postponed and will be covered at another time when the agenda is not so full.

10. Reports –On a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by B. Redmond, the Board voted unanimously by roll call vote to accept all the reports and Treasurer’s Warrants #37 and #38 as presented.

11. Other1. On a motion made by B. Redmond, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously by roll call vote to reappoint Catherine Coyne as the Registrar of Voters for a two-year term. 2. Chairman Melrose inquired about needed repairs to the backhoe after damage was incurred at the transfer station recently. Sabins stated it was still a work in progress. 3. Melrose inquired about the timing to decide a Spirit of America Award recipient for 2021. Sabins stated there is still time and she had a suggestion or two for a recipient that will be discussed at a later date.

12. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.


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