Town Council briefs
Where’s the road?
The Cormorant Cove Association finally found itself in front of the Town Council last week, after two and a half years of effort. The association had a survey done several years ago and discovered that the town-owned Champlin’s Road, which leads to the Coast Guard station, actually runs through Cormorant Cove Association property. Apparently, the road was supposed to more closely follow the utility poles and easement, but over time the dirt road has meandered off course.
The association asked the council to consider signing an agreement which would indemnify the association from liability for anything that happens on the town road located on association property. The association’s feeling was that asking the town to relocate the road back into the easement would disturb the natural habitat, so instead the association is seeking relief from legal liability for the road.
Council Member Keith Stover called it an “elegant solution,” saying that the tide coming in and roads moving were just part of “living on an island.”
Council Member Martha Ball called it an “unusual solution,” with the council agreeing to have the legal team look at its agreement.
Organizing the DPW
The Department of Public Works is still in a “fluid state,” according to Town Manager Maryanne Crawford. She reported to the Town Council on January 4 that she is still working on organizing the DPW to be in compliance with the recent amendments to the Town Charter. The position of Director of Public Works was separated from the Town Manager position, with Matt Moynihan given the role of director. Additionally, Tom Risom has been appointed Facilities Director, and Jenn Brady has been appointed Zoning Official. The roles of Building Official and Building Inspector are currently being contracted out to 4Leaf, a mainland company that provides these services for municipalities. A building inspector is sent out by 4Leaf on Mondays and a building official is sent out on Wednesdays. Crawford informed the
council that many of the building reports and plans have been moved online, so much of this work can be done remotely.
Crawford said the town may need to hire a “foreman or maintenance person” who can make general repairs to town properties. From the audience, Kristin Baumann said the original idea in the charter was that the facilities director was going to be the person who “would wear the tool belt,” and questioned why the town needed to hire another person.
Both Stover and Second Warden Sven Risom voiced their concern that the idea of separating the Director of Public Works job from the Town Manager job was to create two distinct jobs, and that filling the DPW job with Police Chief Matt Moynihan is not exactly what the charter commission had in mind. As Risom said, “it’s hard to wear two hats.”
Chris Warfel spoke from the audience and requested information on the annual costs of contracting the building official and building inspector services through 4Leaf as opposed to hiring employees. Crawford said she would get the numbers together, but mentioned that the salaries for employees would be in line with the union contract, and the contractors through 4Leaf do not receive benefits. There were no applicants for either job when the town advertised them last year.
Hawker’s and Peddler’s Zoning change
The Town Council is holding a public hearing on February 7 for a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance which will define and add hawking and peddling, and mobile food establishments as permitted uses in the Residential A Zone, but only at locations open to the public and established by the Town Council. Crawford told the council at its January 4 meeting that there was a conflict between the wording in the licensing ordinance and the zoning ordinance. The application by Julia Gasner to set up a vendor cart at the North Light parking lot has brought this conflict to light, as it was unclear if previous vendors in that location had been operating illegally or were “grandfathered-in” to operate in a residential zone. Town Solicitor Kathy Merolla joined via Zoom and said the amendment to the ordinance would clear up the inconsistencies, and would allow certain areas of public property to be used for mobile food establishments, and hawking and peddling.