A group of Lincolnville residents filed a charter amendment petition with the town of Lincolnville Tuesday, Jan. 22. The petition seeks to amend the wording of the town's law enforcement charter, Section 505 B, to make the employment of a local police department in Lincolnville optional rather than mandatory.

The group has been working to gather signatures since early November 2012, and set up a table at the polls on voting day to gather voter signatures. Cathy Hardy, a member of the group of residents seeking the amendment, said the petition received 306 signatures from registered Lincolnville voters, a number of which were collected at the polls.

According to a Jan. 22 press release from Hardy, the number of signatures is more than 10 percent of the town's registered voters, and that means the charter change question will appear before voters on the written ballot at the June 11 Lincolnville Town Meeting.

In June 2012, during town meeting, a group of voters requested a written vote to abolish funding for the town's part-time police force. The vote passed, leaving Lincolnville with a single law enforcement officer, Chief Ron Young, according to previously published reports.

The charter change amendment asks if voters will amend the charter to allow the town of Lincolnville to have a local police department if deemed necessary, but will change the present charter wording that requires the town to have a police department, Hardy said. There are about 10 people in the informal working group that drafted the petition, according to a previously published report.

The petition circulated by Hardy and others reads as follows:

“Each of the undersigned voters respectfully requests the municipal officers to provide for the amendment of the municipal charter as set out below:

Section 5.05(B) of Charter regarding the Law Enforcement Department be and hereby is repealed and replaced in its entirety with the following:

B. Law Enforcement – The voters of the Town shall have the power to establish or abolish a local police department.”

Hardy said it is imperative voters understand the goal of the group is not to do away with the existing police department.

“I want to be very clear about this amendment, a 'yes' vote on this amendment in June will not abolish the Lincolnville Police Department. It would simply change the present wording in the town charter to give townspeople the right to decide if they wish to have a police department, or not, at any time in the future,” Hardy said in a written statement.

Hardy said because the town charter presently requires Lincolnville to have a police department, a long process is required for change, if residents desire.

“Presently, the town charter requires the town to have a police department. This means if everyone in town woke up tomorrow morning and decided we could no longer afford a police department or that it was unnecessary, there is no way to change it because of the charter wording. This amendment would simply change the present wording and thereby allow Lincolnville voters to decide at any time whether they wish to maintain or abolish the town’s police department,” said Hardy in a written statement.

Hardy said in a November interview the wording of the petition was reviewed by the group's attorney, Paul Gibbons, and town attorney Sally Daggett prior to being circulated and signed by voters.

Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at jlookner@courierpublicationsllc.com.