FRYEBURG, Maine — Those attending Fryeburg's annual town meeting, held last Thursday at the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center, adopted all articles on the warrant in nearly unanimous votes.
Also during the meeting, the clear-cutting of trees that Eastern Slope Regional Airport's executive committee authorized at Round Pond was discussed and criticized.
Noteworthy articles included the sale of C.A. Snow School property to senior housing developer Avesta Housing; a $142,100 appropriation for a sidewalk maintenance tractor; $15,000 for the Eastern Slope Regional Airport; and the restructuring of marijuana operation permitting fees and a land use setback for marijuana operations from churches and parks.
Peter Malia moderated the meeting, which was attended by over 60 people.
Malia also presented a plaque to retiring Selectman Rick Eastman. It said: “The town of Fryeburg, Maine, presents to Rick Eastman in appreciation of your service and dedication to the Fryeburg board of selectmen from 2010-2019.”
Eastman retired from the board after 32 years of service between Lovell, and Fryeburg select boards.
Receiving a commendation posthumously was Charles Allan Trumbull, a lifelong resident of Fryeburg who recently passed away. A municipal resolution from selectmen for “commendable community service” was accepted by Trumball’s daughter.
Eastman also presented outgoing Town Manager Sharon Jackson a plaque for her service, citing her work in getting the town almost debt-free and amassing $2 million in two surplus accounts.
“We have never been in such good shape as we are this day,” Eastman said, “this plaque is not big enough to fully describe the work that Sharon has done over the last 10 years.”
During voting, resident Nora Schwarz asked selectmen why the cost for Article 3, for the Administration Account was set to increase from last year’s appropriated $476,633 to $502,365 this year.
Jackson responded saying worker’s comp went up this year, as well as health insurance costs for town employees and software.
On Article 7, a vote to spend $142,100 on a Maclean MV4.1 Base Tractor to plow, sand, sweep and mow the sidewalks, Schwarz asked why a selectman came out against the purchase during a 3-1 board vote earlier this year.
Selectman Tom Klinepeter, the dissenting vote, said he wanted to hold off from the purchase for one year in light of upcoming sidewalk reconstruction on Main Street.
Schwarz also asked why there was a close budget committee vote on Article 9, $95,036 for the Library Account.
“We’re providing a lot of the service cost-wise, but we’re not charging as much for it,” said budget committee member James Tyrrell, who added he thinks using the Conway Public Library would be more cost-effective.
Schwarz countered that many groups depend on the Fryeburg Library, that the expense is not “inordinate” and their budget should increase in the future.
In vouching for airport funding with Article 28, Airport Authority Treasurer Gene Bergoffen said Jackson “has been a very valuable friend as well as a professional in helping the airport.”
Bergoffen said the airport’s total budget is $262,000 and will receive $28,000 from supporting towns this year. “You can see $15,000 is very important to us.”
Schwarz asked about the airport’s tree removal that occurred this spring at Round Pond, saying, "It's been pretty much destroyed."
She wondered whether the tree removal had been needed for the extension of the runway.
“The tree removal was not done for the purpose of extension of the runway,” Berghoffen replied. He said the FAA does vegetation reviews “regularly” around the airport and that trees identified by the FAA had to be cut in order to receive funding.
“There was no concern about erosion or damage to the pond itself,” he said, noting they did use best management practices.
According to meeting minutes between airport executive committee secretary Ed Bergeron, Fryeburg Code Enforcement Officer Katie Haley, Maine DEP representative Lucien Langlois, Airport Manager Dave Cullinan and Marc Greaney of Western Maine Timberlands in early June, the agency said no erosion issues were caused by the cutting, but “DEP approval required hand-cutting of trees within 100 feet of pond.”
Cullinan said to hand cut trees on the water would have been very hard “given the size of the trees.”
The minutes went on to say “it was clarified that the potential non-compliance issues are with the condition of approval of the Site Location permit that trees within 100 feet of the pond be removed by hand and the lack of DEP notification.”
DEP also recommended that the road connecting Porter Road to Round Pond be closed to vehicle access to minimize human impact.
At the June 6 selectman’s meeting, Eastman made clear that he was still not satisfied with the cutting after slash was cleaned up.
“It’s the third time this has happened,” he said, noting that the cutting of 70-foot pine trees was unnecessary. “All of the apologies in the world will not bring that tree back.”
He said he hoped Maine DEP would have some “teeth in their comments.”
All of the warrant articles for 2019-20 can be found in the 2018 Fryeburg Annual Town Report online at fryeburgmaine.org or at the town office.