June 9, 2014

Raymond holds annual town meeting - By Elizabeth Richard

Raymond residents came together at Jordan Small Middle School on Tuesday, June 8, for the annual Town Meeting. All 44 articles in the Town Warrant were passed, but not without some heated debate.
After election of John Robinson as the moderator, State Representative Mike McLellan rose to present recognition from the State of Maine to Town Clerk Louise Lester who is retiring.

Articles 2 through 7 passed quickly and without discussion. These articles included amending the land use map, and repealing and holding in reserve Article 5.E.7 (Residential Growth Management) of the Raymond Land Use Ordinance. 

The following Articles in the Raymond Land Use Articles were amended: 4.F.4.c (District Regulations – Commercial District); 6.C (Appeals Procedure); 9.C (Off-Street Parking); 10.B (Authority and Classification of Site Plan); 10.C (Site Plan Review-Administration); 10.F (Definitions) and 12 (Definitions). 

The following Articles in the Town of Raymond Subdivision Regulations were amended: 5 (Preliminary Plan) and 7 (Minor Subdivision). 

The following Articles in the Town of Raymond Shoreland Zoning Provisions were amended: 15 (Land Use Standards); 15.G (Parking Areas); and 17 (Definitions)

Article 8, proposing changes to the Parking Areas article of the Shoreland Zoning Provisions, was one of the most debated topics of the evening, with almost equal comment on both sides of the argument. Some felt the changes in the ordinance would make it easier for projects like the proposed Frye Island parking area to move forward, and the potential for decreasing property values in the South Cape area. Some commented that they felt other options should be considered rather than amending the current article, which in their opinion is flawed. Those in favor pointed out that the changes would be more restrictive of what the parking lots would look like. Robert O’Neill, chair of the planning board said that parking in shoreland zoning is already an authorized use. Voting no, he said, was voting against giving more guidance in how the property can be used. 

The initial decision of the moderator on the outcome of the visual vote was challenged, but when the challenge went to a vote, it was defeated. Article 8 was passed.

Article 9, a vote to appropriate $15,000 from the Open Space Fund to donate to the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America for purchase of 30-acres of land on the Tenney River also drew discussion, primarily around financial concerns. Proponents spoke of the benefits to the town, including protecting water resources, outdoor recreational opportunities and rural character. Article 9 passed.

Article 10,  which passed, also asked for an appropriation of funds for the purchase of 347+/- acres along Conesca Road, including Pismire Mountain. This article brought similar discussion around finances, along with several residents speaking up about development that has already occurred, and a desire to preserve natural resources in Raymond from further development.

The remaining items in the warrant were budget items, many of which were passed without any discussion. There were occasional shows of support for items, in particular the library, where one resident suggested doubling the amount recommended. Due to state law, that was not possible, and the original article regarding the library passed, allocating $40,500 to the library. 

While concern over financial recommendations was expressed several times by some residents, the item that drew the most attention was Article 43, voting on increasing the property tax levy limit by $500,000. A question was raised about why the wording was to increase, which is a long term change, rather than expend, which would be for one year only. It was explained that if bonding moved forward, that would need to be accounted for in future years. A paper secret ballot was used for this item, and the vote turned out in favor with a 62-43 count.

Specifics of the articles passed at the meeting can be found in the Town Warrant at www. raymondmaine.org.

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