STOCKTON SPRINGS — After several months’ hiatus, the possibility of creating a short-term rental ordinance was back on the Select Board’s agenda July 15. Several interested residents attended the meeting to learn about the proposed process for gathering information and crafting such a measure.

In February, the board had begun the process of developing an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals, mainly because of complaints about renters at a property known as The Cow Palace on Lighthouse Road, which is owned by an out-of-state couple. The effort was shelved because there was not time to gather information and have the necessary public hearings in time to have an ordinance ready to be approved at the annual town meeting in June. In the meantime, a new town manager has been hired, and two of the three Select Board seats have turned over.

At the most recent meeting, Town Manager Mac Smith presented a rough schedule for research, public hearings and development of an ordinance. He mentioned that the Maine Legislature was considering a measure to prohibit municipalities from banning short-term rentals outright.

Smith suggested speeding up the timetable in the schedule he presented, holding the first of two community and stakeholder input sessions during the Aug. 5 Select Board meeting, and added that the meetings should be advertised widely.

Resident John Vallely, who was among those who had complained in February, asked whether the town’s existing land use ordinance covered short-term rentals, or if it could be made to cover them with simple amendment. Smith replied that he would talk with the town’s attorney, Edmund Bearor, of Bangor firm Rudman Winchell, about the possibility of amending the current ordinance.

Another resident wanted to know whether any work had been done on developing a new ordinance. Smith said some work had been begun, but there had been no public meetings yet. He added that the Aug. 5 session would be for brainstorming and developing next steps.

Municipal officers also heard from Matt Bolduc of From Above, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast that works with people who are homeless or poor. The group is very involved in clearing junk and debris from the yards of people who could not otherwise have it removed. From Above does not charge residents for the work, which is performed mostly by volunteers, in partnership with Pinkerton’s Disposal.

Bolduc explained that his group sometimes has trouble getting property owners to allow it on their premises to do the cleanup work, and asked the Select Board to consider enacting an ordinance to require owners to clean up eyesores. He said he knew of at least eight properties in town that were candidates for cleanups.

Smith agreed to ask the city of Belfast for a copy of its ordinance regulating eyesores, and said he would put the matter on the Aug. 5 agenda.

In other business, Smith presented a proposed figure of $38,575 that Stockton Springs will charge the town of Prospect for ambulance service this year. Prospect has received ambulance services from Stockton Springs for several years, and this year requested a formal contract. Smith said he arrived at the figure by determining what percentage of the town’s ambulance calls for 2020 were to Prospect (27%). He then divided 2020’s ambulance revenues ($102,814) by 27% and divided this year’s ambulance budget ($245,683) by that same percentage. Lastly, he subtracted Prospect’s share of last year’s revenue from its share of this year’s expenses to get the final figure.

Smith met with Prospect’s Select Board the evening of July 15, and later told The Republican Journal in an email that ” This is the beginning of a necessary dialogue between the two towns regarding ambulance service.”

New Ambulance Director Ken Folette also made a brief presentation about The Front Porch Project, an effort of The Children’s Trust administered locally by Midcoast Maine Community Action Program. The project seeks to educate residents about child abuse and how to step in and help by supporting families. Folette said he had taken the program’s online training and was planning to have a group training for the Ambulance Department Aug. 3. When Municipal Officer Betsy Bradley said she was interested in the training, he offered to open it to any members of the public who would like to attend. For more information about the project, visit frontporchmaine.org.

Before adjourning, the board named Rebecca Emery to the Planning Board and Mark Emery to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

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