New Gloucester garage vote by residents nixed

By Ellie Fellers From the Lewiston Sun:

NEW GLOUCESTER — A warrant for a special town meeting Sept. 18 to approve building a town garage and a salt/sand shed was not signed by selectmen Monday night because the motion failed in a 2-2 vote. The project is dead, unless the motion is reconsidered or citizens put forth a petition requesting the vote be held.
Chairwoman Linda Chase and Vice Chairman Steve Libby voted in favor of giving voters the right to approve the project, while Stephen Hathorne and Joseph Davis were opposed. Selectman Lenora Conger was absent.
“This would be an overstep for us to deny voters the right to vote,” Libby said.  Following the vote, he stormed out of the meeting saying loudly, “Good show, real professional.”Libby has served with a citizen-appointed committee for two years working on the proposed six-bay garage and 80- by 160-foot sand/salt shed on 25 acres where fire station stands at 611 Lewiston Road.
Ganneston Construction of Augusta was chosen to build the garage and has provided engineering and technical service at no expense to the town.The $4.6 million cost for the garage and shed would been financed by a 25-year bond. With interest of $1.78 million, the total cost would be $6.38 million.
The warrant also asked voters to approve an amendment to the Pineland Municipal Development Tax Increment Financing District to allow a percentage be used for the project.
Two public informational meetings this month drew only a dozen residents each.
Hathorne has been opposed to the site, preferring Upper Gloucester village for a garage to replace one with cracked load-bearing walls and crumbling masonry block, roof and wall leaks and lack of insulation. The garage has outdated mechanical systems and driveway safety issues.
Hathorne said he fears a nearby groundwater aquifer at 611 Lewiston Road could be polluted if a garage is built there.“I am 100 percent in  favor of a new town garage, but I will not sign the warrant,” he said.
Davis said not enough people know about the project. He also said if town land near the site was used for a road it could impact the area and groundwater.
In other business, the board set the 2018 tax rate at $15.60 per thousand dollars of valuation, or 90 cents more than the current rate of $14.70. Taxes on a home valued at  $100,000 would be $1,560, an increase of $90.
The new rate allows an overlay of $59,110.60.

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