Board of Selectmen Chairman Doug Norman said a new deed prepared by town attorney Aaron Fethke concerning a disputed parcel adjacent to Birch Lane has been signed and approved by all concerned parties.

Town Manager James Gillway said in a conversation with The Republican Journal Sept. 22 that originally there were several different deeds in the land records, and identifying properties was not "black or white." The new deed, he said, is "very clear" and does not change the parcel being conveyed, which is referred to as "Map 1, Lot 46" on the town's tax maps.

The property has been a topic of discussion at the last two selectmen's meetings, along with the church group that has been holding open-air services and Bible study in a tent at the property, which is owned by Chris and Diane Colby.

Gillway said the Colbys were given a notice of violation and invited to go through the process of applying to have the church group operate on their property. If they felt there was no reason for them to be denied, they should have gone through the proper channels, starting a paper trail and giving the town appropriate time to review the matter.

When asked about the road the Colbys were constructing on the parcel, which neighbors contend is forbidden by deed covenants, Gillway said he could not comment on the matter, which is likely to be litigated. He acknowledged that the Department of Environmental Protection was notified about the disturbance of wetlands on the property, but added that up to 10% can be disturbed without a permit.

When one resident at the selectmen's meeting asked about COVID-19 protocols not being observed at the property during church services, Norman acknowledged it is a problem because of the pandemic, but said, "Selectmen don't have anything to do with code enforcement."

"He (Code Enforcement Officer Randy Hall) works for us, but we can't tell him what to do," he said. "It's being dealt with as any planning issue would be — it's not allowed."

Norman said he felt the weather would eventually resolve the issue.

In other business, Regional School Unit 20 Resource Officer Chris McCrillis announced his resignation, and according to Norman, is going to Bucksport.

Board Vice Chairman Mark Bradstreet thanked McCrillis for his service to the town of Searsport and the students of RSU 20.

"I have never heard of such great compliments," Norman said, "for a resource officer — anytime, anyplace. We are very unhappy about losing him, but we wish him well."

A moment of silence was observed for Beverley Smith, an election warden for the town for many years, who died Sept. 6.