Montville revisits spray ban after 38 years

By Fran Gonzalez | Feb 08, 2018
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Residents have placed signs like this one on Route 220 in Montville, alerting utility crews to abstain from spraying.

Montville — On March 22, 1980, residents of Montville passed an ordinance at their annual town meeting that prohibits all roadside spraying. However, spraying has continued and town officials are revisiting the ordinance.

The original ordinance applied to all town road rights-of-way and also requested the state of Maine not spray along state-maintained roads in Montville.

Article 52, as it was approved in 1980, reads:

"Moved and seconded to ban all spraying within the Town Road Rights of Way and to request that the State not spray along maintained roads in Montville and Amended to include Telephone and Electric Co. Right of Way."

In 2016, some residents noticed workers from Central Maine Power Co. spraying on their property. When confronted, the workers indicated the town needed to be on a state registry for spraying to be limited.

According to former Montville Administrative Assistant Susan Shell, "I do remember that it came to our attention in February 2016 ... We clarified that the article could be considered a valid ordinance and then registered the town with the Board of Pesticide Control."

The ordinance apparently was not registered after it was approved in 1980, but it now appears on the state website — without the amendment.

Selectman Cathy Roberts said town officials in 2016 were not aware of the amendment to include utility companies.

"This now brings up the question regarding the legality of an ordinance being amended on the floor, which is not advised," Roberts said. " ... I am guessing that the article was never registered either because the Select Board in 1980 was unaware that it needed to be registered or it was a matter of an oversight."

Montville selectmen have asked Maine Municipal Association and the state for clarification on details concerning the ordinance.

"Based on past recommendations and comments from MMA on this subject, it may be prudent for the board to draft a new ordinance for (the annual) town meeting," Roberts said. "We recently learned that we are required to sign a three-year mutual agreement that would include a vegetation management plan and a budget. We are considering attaching this to the ordinance."

At the Jan. 8 selectmen's meeting, Bob Moosman from Maine Department of Transportation recommended the town perform a cost analysis and bring the matter to a vote at town meeting. According to the minutes, Moosman cited Southport as an example of a town with a No Spray Agreement with MDOT.

Southport spends approximately $20,000 every three years to maintain their 10 miles of state roads, Moosman said, adding that Montville has 17.9 miles of state roads.

Townspeople will have an opportunity to weigh in on the re-enactment of Article 52 at the annual town meeting March 24 if the selectmen decide to move ahead after speaking with MMA and state officials.

Ordinance specifics should include how the town plans to maintain roadside vegetation without spraying, town officials said, and residents must approve funding for the article.

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