Lincolnville selectmen changed course Monday evening, Nov. 8, voting 3-2 in favor of appointing themselves as a state grant oversight committee, until they choose otherwise.

Last March, they voted 5-0 to establish a nine-member oversight committee and appoint members to it.

But on Monday, they decided in a three-part motion to oversee Gateway 1 developments in town, schedule a meeting with Gateway 1 crafters, and to ask Lincolnville Planning Board Chairman Lois Lyman and Andrea Norfleet, chairman of the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee, to join them as advisers to the committee.

Gateway 1, initiated by the Maine Department of Transportation six years ago, has been defined as a collaborative effort among 21 towns that lie along Route 1 between Brunswick and Prospect. The goal of Gateway 1 is to plan regionally for land use and transportation and maintain the highway’s role as a regional arterial and economic lifeline while enhancing the quality of life. It is the project’s objective to weave the 21 communities into a Gateway 1 Corridor Coalition. Some of the proposed initiatives give the coalition authority to prioritize transportation improvements as proposed by the DOT, which owns the highway, as well as increase the funding pipeline for new sidewalks and street trees, or extend public sewer and water.

Last March, Lincolnville selectmen agreed to pursue a Department of Transportation planning grant, along with other Gateway 1 communities, all pursuing a piece of a $500,000 purse that was to be shared. Lincolnville applied for the funding, saying it would be used to analyze how the Gateway 1 goals, mission and expectations mesh with the town’s own comprehensive plan.

Other towns, such as Camden and Waldoboro, also applied for grant money for different purposes, such as pedestrian improvements or visioning exercises.

Anticipating approval of the grant, the selectmen voted in March to establish the Gateway 1 Grant Oversight Committee, consisting of nine members, with the draft task of gathering information about how Lincolnville’s ordinances mesh with Gateway 1. But they did not appoint members, waiting instead to see if the grant was approved.

In August, Gateway 1 project leaders, consisting of volunteers from all the 21 towns, produced a draft interlocal agreement, one of the first steps toward establishing a collaborative regional plan. The agreement contained both an unprecedented requirement that the DOT share budget authority with participating municipalities, and it included standards that the towns would have to incorporate into their land use ordinances.

Municipal leaders, including Lincolnville’s, grew skeptical after reading the proposed agreement, and raised concerns about the potential loss of local control, as well as possible contradictions between their own local development goals and those outlined in the action plan. Lincolnville subsequently submitted a list of questions and concerns compiled by various committee volunteers for the Gateway 1 Implementation Steering Committee.

Chris Osgood, a Lincolnville resident and a member of that steering committee, told the selectmen Nov. 8 that community concerns had been carefully considered and changes to the draft agreement reflected them.

In a move reflecting their desire to stay abreast of Gateway 1, the selectmen voted Nov. 8 to assume oversight of the Gateway 1 process in Lincolnville and not appoint community members to a grant oversight committee. They asked Osgood to arrange a public meeting — several hours long, and perhaps facilitated, some selectmen figured — for citizens and gateway planners, preferably in the next several weeks, to attend.

Voting in favor of the motion were selectmen Cathy Hardy, Jason Trundy and Rosey Gerry; opposed were Stacey Parra and Robert Plausse.

During the conversation, Gerry asked Osgood if the change in political leadership at the Capitol from the Democrat-led to a Republican-led government would terminate Gateway 1.

“This is a locally grown effort,” said Osgood, emphasizing that Gateway 1 was not DOT driven, but led by volunteers from all the 21 towns. “And it is a less expensive way of doing business.”

Hardy proposed waiting before moving forward locally on Gateway 1 matters to see “how things shake out with the DOT. One regime can throw this in the toilet real fast.”

Osgood reiterated his position about Gateway 1, saying the planning project proposed too many cost savings and represented too many towns to get eliminated.

Burglars close dog gate

In other town business, Lincolnville Police Chief Ron Young reported that he received the town’s first Taser, and that it was “up and working.” It will be monitored by an audio and visual camera, and he, along with two of the town’s officers, were trained in how to use it. He also said he has himself been tased.

“I’ve done it once and I doubt I will ever do it again,” said Young. “This is the most effective tool I’ve ever seen.”

Young also told the selectmen that there have been two residential burglaries during the past week in Lincolnville. At one Belfast Road home, $400 to $500 worth of items were stolen.

The other burglary took place sometime between 6:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Greenacre Road. The thief stole firearms and jewelry, despite the presence of dogs in the home. The thief also remembered to close the gate upon his or her departure to ensure that the dogs would not escape from the yard, Young said.

Town meeting remains on Saturday morning

Lincolnville placed on its Nov. 2 ballot a non-binding referendum asking citizens if they preferred annual town meeting to take place on a Saturday morning or a weekday evening.

“In true Lincolnville fashion,” selectmen observed, the town was equally split, with 407 votes cast in favor of Saturday morning and 406 votes for weeknight.

After considerable discussion, the selectmen voted 3-2 in favor of retaining Saturday morning as town meeting time. Voting in favor were Plausse, Parra and Gerry; against, Hardy and Trundy. The selectmen have been hoping for a higher turnout at town meeting (currently, approximately 100 citizens attend on average), as once was the case, when town meetings across the state were held in March, and school budgets were included in the municipal budget, all making for lively and sometimes contentious deliberations.

“I think you get the people who want to come to town meeting, come to town meeting,” said Parra.

“It always depends on what you put on the warrant that determines the turnout,” said Town Administrator David Kinney.

At Monday’s meeting, State Rep. Andrew O’Brien, D-Lincolnville, asked the selectmen to open a town discussion about instituting instant runoff voting, or as it is also called, rank choice, or preference voting. Other places, such as Vermont, Fiji, the United Kingdom, Minneapolis and Aspen, have adopted it.

“It’s an idea we should look at to see if it will work for us,” he said.

According to Instantrunoffvoting.com, the voting method provides an alternative to plurality and runoff elections. “In a plurality election, the highest vote getter wins even if s/he receives less than 50 percent of the vote, and may even be considered the worst choice by the majority of voters. In a runoff election, two candidates advance to a runoff if no candidate receives more than 50 percent in the first round. Voters rank candidates in order of choice: one, two and three, and so on. It takes a majority to win. If a majority of voters rank a candidate first, that candidate is elected. If not, the last place candidate is defeated, just as in a runoff election, and all ballots are counted again, but this time each ballot cast for the defeated candidate counts for the next ranked candidate listed on the ballot. The process of eliminating the last place candidate and recounting the ballots continues until one candidate receives a majority of the vote.”

O’Brien said the state will not mandate instant-runoff elections; it is up to a given municipality to adopt for its own local elections.

Gerry said Nov. 8 that he received 10 to 20 e-mails from Lincolnville residents supporting the measure.

The selectmen agreed to talk more about it in January.

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