Residents at the annual town meeting March 27 rejected a proposed six-month moratorium on wind turbine construction saying that it could adversely affect residents who would erect small windmills for domestic use.

The language of the moratorium, which Selectwoman Maggie Wilcox said was written based on guidelines from Maine Municipal Association, would have prohibited “wind mill towers in excess of 35 feet in height.”

Several residents pointed to existing windmills — on the property of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and on the property of an Amish family — that would have been blocked under the proposed moratorium. The MOFGA windmill is in the town of Thorndike.

The Amish residents of Unity were given as examples several times, though no one from the Amish community was present. Code Enforcement Officer Charles Porter noted that one of the Amish families was specifically employed building windmills with nine-foot blades for use within the community.

Residents expressed some concern over the possibility of a developer’s erecting industrial-scale turbines in town if no moratorium or ordinance were in place. State Rep. John Piotti, who serves as chairman of the Unity Planning Board, said he believed a large turbine development would “trigger” the town’s existing building ordinances, but a smaller turbine, erected for use by the property owner, would not.

The moratorium was defeated by a nearly unanimous vote.

Town roads got nearly $68,000 less than last year because, Wilcox explained, last year’s figures included money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which the town would be applying for again. Wilcox said this year the town would be working on resurfacing a portion of Quaker Hill Road, which she said is not the worst road in town but is one of the “most important,” because of the large number of residences on the road, or on roads accessed from it.

Wilcox said if the town gets the FEMA grant this year, the plan would be to continue on Quaker Hill Road to the intersection of Short Road, which would likely be reconfigured into a perpendicular intersection with a stop sign instead of the yield sign there today.

Talk of road repairs invariably turned to Depot Road, the suspension-busting shortcut between Route 220 and Thorndike Road. Piotti said the state-owned road is clearly in need of repairs but he didn’t believe the state would get to it for many years.

Some conversation followed on whether the town could take over the road, but Selectman James Kenney argued that the state was not permitted to relinquish a road until the road was brought up to a certain standard. Piotti said he could look at the dollar amounts for repairing the road but he guessed they would be prohibitive.

Several residents raised questions about the town’s donations to social services. The warrant listed 16 groups with budget committee recommendations and amounts requested. But some groups that had requested money weren’t on the list, notably Waldo Community Action Partners, which submitted, according to Kenney, the largest request to the town.

Kenney said the selectmen had unanimously voted to include only two groups on the warrant, the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry, and the Dorothy Webb Quimby Library. The other 14 organizations had apparently been added at the discretion of the budget committee.

“Every one was taken out, because the numbers keep growing and growing,” Kenney said.

One resident objected to having organizations not appear on the warrant when voters might otherwise fund them. Another asked if WCAP would continue to serve Unity if the town didn’t fund the organization.

WCAP Transportation Director Ed Murphy said the organization would continue to work in Unity, but he noted, loss of town funding would lead to reduced staffing and hours that could translate to a loss of services. Murphy said he was “disappointed” that WCAP’s request wasn’t on the warrant.

“We won’t stop services, but you can bet it will put a crunch on us,” he said.

Voters approved the amounts recommended by the budget committee for 15 of the groups, and increased the contribution to Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care from the budget committee’s recommended $1,000 to $1,500. Several residents, including Wilcox, spoke of having benefited from Kno-Wal-Lin’s services

The $500 addition to the bottom line caused residents to question an action they had taken at the beginning of the meeting with regard to exceeding the state’s LD 1 cap on municipal growth. The article indicated that Unity would be allowed to spend $77,057 more than last year, according to the state formula, but residents would have to vote to exceed the cap if the tax levy were to exceed last year’s budget plus $77,057.

When first considering the article, however, residents decided that it was written incorrectly and should say that the town may exceed the LD 1 cap by $77,057, a figure that was believed to be related to the bottom line of the budget. When the article came back into question, it was noted by one of the selectmen that the bottom line of the budget would not be known until after the town meeting when amendments were factored in.

There were also questions about whether the LD 1 limit included appropriations for the school district and the county. Residents ultimately voted to exceed the cap, but struck the dollar figure from the article as a precaution.

The Unity Area Regional Recycling Center asked for 38 percent more than last year because, according to representative Clem Blakney, more people have been recycling. To meet the demand, he said, the center hired two full-time employees to replace the two part-timers who had been working at the facility. The announcement prompted moderator Don Newell to ask if the increase in recycling by residents had lowered the town’s solid waste disposal costs. It had not, he was told.

In municipal elections, Unity voters re-elected Selectman James Kenney for a three-year term. Assessor Max Gillette was re-elected, and write-in candidate Kevin Spigel was elected as Unity utilities district trustee.

Several candidates for state offices addressed Unity residents, including Reps. John Piotti and Mike Thibodeau, who are each seeking the Senate District 23 seat currently held by Carol Weston. Democrat Helen Sahadi and Republican Peter Sheff also appeared. Both are seeking the House District 45 seat currently held by Piotti.

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