Following in the footsteps of neighboring towns, Burnham residents voted at the annual town meeting March 20 to begin work on a wind energy ordinance.

Social service agencies got a warmer reception this year than last, and the municipal building will get a new roof. Several other issues on the minds of townspeople didn’t appear on the warrant, and though these couldn’t be acted upon, it appeared that concerns about paying for water weight in trash disposal and cutting dead trees at the town beach might come up at future selectmen’s meetings.

A number of Waldo County towns have approved or are working on wind energy ordinances, and though the wind developers have yet to come knocking on the doors of Burnham residents, the townspeople decided it would be wise to get something on the books. Unlike other towns, Burnham has not enacted a moratorium on wind development to protect the town during the drafting process.

“Seeing what’s happening in the surrounding towns, we don’t want to be scrambling around to put together an ordinance at the last minute,” said Planning Board Chairman Brian Swift.

Selectman George Robison agreed, bringing up the town’s efforts to draft a cell phone tower ordinance on the fly several years ago. At that time, Robison said, the selectmen used boilerplate language from ordinances in other towns and at the state level.

Carleton Croft said he believed the cell phone tower ordinance was poorly written in a way that had benefited him personally. But he cautioned it might be wise for the town to bring in someone with experience in wind energy regulation.

In response to the question, “Do the inhabitants of the Town want a Wind Turbine Ordinance?” those in attendance voted overwhelmingly “yes.”

Appropriations for the transfer station and recycling drew comments about large items, particularly sofas, that collect rain water in the time between their arrival at the transfer station and when they are carted away. The added water weight was costing the town money, several residents argued. There was some discussion of using tarps or calling for pickup sooner, but it was determined to be an issue for meetings of the Board of Selectmen, not the town meeting.

Residents voted not to fund summer maintenance of Charles Taylor Lane, a four-tenths-of-a-mile dirt road serving one year-round resident and several summer residents. Prior to 2009, the town had contributed a token $100 to road maintenance. Last year, residents voted to cut off funding altogether.

The town cemetery committee, which has suffered from vacancies during the past two years, was disbanded in favor of having a sexton to be hired at the 2011 town meeting. The town of Burnham sexton would be paid a $500 stipend plus an hourly wage for working in the cemetery.

Residents voted to put a new roof on the Reynolds Municipal Building at a projected cost of $20,000. One resident suggested that the town might come by another building soon and should think about moving the town offices rather than repairing the old building. The new building referred to was the Burnham Village School, which MSAD 53 has pegged for closure June 30 unless residents of Burnham, Detroit and Pittsfield vote to keep the school open.

Several residents logged complaints about the snow removal, particularly mailboxes being knocked down. Moderator Luke Goodblood pointed out that most mailboxes in town were located in the right of way. Assistant Fire Chief Charles King noted that with certain kinds of snowfall, a plow could be in the center of the road and still knock down a mailbox.

Dead trees at the town beach appeared to be a concern among many residents in attendance, but who would cut them down was less clear. Several residents seemed willing to get out their chainsaws for the collective good, but town officials objected to any work being done without proper insurance. Goodblood recommended the issue be taken up at a selectmen’s meeting.

“These guys are basically sitting up here by themselves Monday nights. They’d love to see some citizens complaining,” he said.

Burnham residents gave less scrutiny to social service agencies than last year, when they puzzled over requests from a number of organizations that did not have representatives at the meetings to answer questions. Waldo Community Action Partners was one of those groups, and this year representative Brent Stapley appeared to explain the services the organization has provided to Burnham residents.

The townspeople appeared to appreciate the explanation and several vouched for WaldoCAP’s efforts based on personal experience.

The organization did not get the $8,315 it requested, but residents doubled the amount recommended by the town’s budget committee from $1,500 to $3,000.

Other non-town entities that received funding were the Pittsfield Youth Center, Unity Youth League, Spectrum Generations, Unity College Library, the Driftbuster Snowmobile Club of Pittsfield, the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry in Unity and Kennebec Behavioral Health.

Residents voted to double the per-meeting compensation for Planning Board members, from $10 to $20. According to Board Chairman Brian Swift, the $10 per meeting payment had been in place since 1982.

Fifteen people were in attendance at Saturday’s town meeting, which lasted less than two hours.

In elections held March 19, Selectman George Robison was re-elected, defeating challenger Brent Chase by a margin of 59 to 30. Arlene Miles was re-elected as treasurer. Roger Huff was re-elected as road commissioner and Regina Basford was re-elected to the MSAD 53 board of directors.

County Treasurer David Parkman told residents in attendance on Saturday that Burnham was one of 12 towns that would see a drop in their county taxes this year. The county mill rate dropped this year, but as Parkman told Thorndike residents earlier that day, some towns would see their county tax payment go up because of an increase in the town’s overall valuation.

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