Minutes of the Chebeague Transition Committee February 7, 2007 at 7:00 at the Parish House. (Accepted 2/21/07)
Members present: Donna Damon, Mark Dyer, Leon Hamilton, David Hill, John Martin (Chair), Jim Phipps, Doug Ross, and Carol White. Steve Moriarty served as invited Chair.
Absent: Stephen Todd
Leon Hamilton moved, seconded by Donna Damon to accept the minutes with changes. Passed unanimously.
Questions from the Public: none. Steve Moriarty announced that next Cumberland Town Council meeting on Monday will take up the extension of the wharf agreement with Yarmouth. This is not expected to be a problem.
Report from Land Use Subcommittee:
Beth Howe handed out a memo on zoning and a request for legal assistance (attached). She said that the committee has been working toward recommendations on the Zoning Ordinance but need some legal advice before they can make a final decision on what to recommend to the TC. Their original expectation was to propose on July 1 that the first Town Meeting adopt the Cumberland Zoning Ordinance, edited only to take out sections that have nothing to do with the islands. But careful review of the ordinance indicated that this ordinance, though it has been in force for many years, is not what the islands need to regulate land use in the future. It does not reflect the way land uses have developed on Chebeague, it has a few provisions that could be harmful, and most important, the Zoning Ordinance bears no relationship to the Comprehensive Plan adopted by Chebeague in 2002. So the Subcommittee will be asking the TC to recommend to the first Town Meeting that it authorize an up-date of the existing plan and a revision of the zoning and subdivision ordinances to be consistent with the plan. In addition the Subcommittee has been seriously considering proposing a limited moratorium on new development for 6 months to a year while this review and revision takes place. This would give the new Planning Board and Long-Range Planning Committee breathing room from development proposals. It would not restrict ³ordinary² or traditional² new development such as the construction of new single-family homes but would apply to major subdivisions and to many commercial uses allowed in the Zoning Ordinance. It would also not apply to any development applications made to Cumberland before July 1. Beth said that her Subcommittee would provide more information on all these recommendations, but that their request to this meeting is simply to talk to the TC¹s legal firm, Brann and Isaacson, about whether a limited moratorium would be legal and whether the way to proceed on July 1 would be to recommend to the first Town Meeting that it adopt the existing Cumberland Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances or to have no land use ordinances.
Steve Moriarty asked whether the Land Use Subcommittee would recommend to the first Town meeting that it adopt the Chebeague Long-Range Plan that had been adopted as part of the Cumberland Comprehensive Plan. Beth said yes. He said that Cumberland had a moratorium on major subdivisions some years ago and Donna Damon said that there had been a moratorium on multi-unit development on Chebeague at the time of the Rose¹s Point subdivision in 1987-88. David Hill said that the general direction of the recommendations sounded reasonable. Carol White said that this would lead to a community-wide process to consider the plan and the ordinances. John Martin said that he supported adopting the Long-Range Plan but he would not accept a moratorium. Donna said that the critical issue for her on the moratorium would be the list of uses that would be suspended. Beth said that she was not asking the TC to adopt the idea of the moratorium at this meeting, only to allow her to talk to the lawyer about it.
Donna suggested that the Land Use Subcommittee change provisions in the Zoning Ordinance, like mining of groundwater, that are harmful. Beth said that the Subcommittee had found this to be a ³slippery slope² and that they were not comfortable making ad hoc recommendations for changes to the first Town Meeting that might require a lot of discussion. She said that the Subcommittee is proposing to recommend changes in the shoreland zoning provisions. However, these changes are required because of changes in the law by the Legislature last session. The Subcommittee will simply recommend adopting the new state wording.
Steve Moriarty suggested starting out with the Cumberland ordinances and the plan and then reviewing all of them once the Town was in operation. Beth said this was what her Subcommittee had been planning to do and probably would still do. They had only decided they need legal advice on this because a member with experience in land use planning and moratoria had suggested starting with no ordinances. Sam Ballard asked if up-dating the existing plan would require doing more planning studies. Beth said yes. Leon said he thought it was not the job of a subcommittee of the TC to change the ordinances. This should be done by the people of Chebeague. Beth agreed.
David Hill said he thought it was premature to talk with a lawyer about a moratorium. The TC should decide if it wants a moratorium, and if it does, then would be the time to talk with the lawyer. Beth said that her committee did not want to recommend any moratorium if it had to be across-the-board and this was what she wanted to find out. Jim Phipps said that he thought Beth had made a compelling case to recommend the Cumberland ordinances with serious reservations and a recommendation from the TC that they should be studied once the Town was in operation. While this was being done the Subcommittee is recommending a moratorium on major development. A moratorium would only work if it is in effect before the revisions are done. If Beth needs legal advice she should have it. Ken Hamilton said he had just come in and the discussion sounded frightening. Changing the Zoning Ordinance is tricky work. Leila Bisharat said she is a member of the subcommittee. She thinks the Town has serious work to do; there are problems with the Zoning Ordinance. The group is close to making recommendations but needs legal advice to go forward.
Carol White moved, seconded by Donna Damon, that Beth Howe be authorized to talk with Brann and Isaacson about whether a limited moratorium is legally possible, and about the advisability of having no land use ordinances at the beginning or an edited version of Cumberland¹s Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances. [LU ask lawyer – moratorium and initial ordinances] John Martin said he had been convinced about reviewing the plan and ordinances but could not support a moratorium. David Hill moved to amend the motion by taking out the language about the moratorium. [LU secondary, take out moratorium] Seconded by Leon Hamilton. Donna said she would vote against the amendment; it would be better to get legal advice and make a decision. Steve Moriarty called for the vote to amend. The vote was 4 in favor and 4 against so the motion failed. Steve called for a vote on the main motion including both points. The vote was unanimously in favor.
Beth Howe also gave out a proposal [attached: LU &m GS Island Institute fellow] from the Land Use and Governmental Structure Subcommittees to make an application to the Island Institute to have an Island Fellow for next year to work on the Comprehensive Plan and revision of the land use ordinances. Jim Phipps asked who had sponsored Fellow is the past, whether this involved a financial commitment and whether the issue of where the Fellow would live had been considered.. Donna said that the current fellow works for the Historical Society. The fellowship involves a commitment of $5,000, which is small compared to the support the Island Institute provides. She and Beth have not addressed the issue of housing yet. Leon Hamilton moved, seconded by Mark Dyer to approve submitting the application. The vote was 6 in favor with Jim Phipps and John Martin opposed.
Donna Damon reported on the Hiring Subcommittee¹s meeting with Nadeen Daniels. Six TC members attended. She said that Nadeen was ³very very helpful² and others added that it was ³unbelievable what she knows² and how much work she had put in on assembling material for the meeting. They had gone over basic hiring issues including benefits and job descriptions. There will be another meeting next Thursday. Carol White said she hoped that more notice could be given for the meetings because she would like to have members of the Education Subcommittee be able to attend. Donna said that some of the next meeting might be in Executive Session. Carol asked about what the procedure would be for circulating applications for the various jobs. Making paper copies for everyone seems not very secure and takes a lot of paper. Someone had suggested having them on a web site with access only to committee members. An alternative would be to have the applications be kept in a secure room that committee members have to come to. Donna Damon said that when the Cumberland Council hired the Town Manager all the Council members had copies of the applications.
Carol White and Donna Damon reported on the Governor¹s School Consolidation Plan. They both attended the large public hearing in Augusta on Monday. Donna said that the legislators she had talked with seemed to think that it would make sense to deal with the islands separately, but everyone has their own idea of how to do this. There will be a meeting of the Maine Island Coalition on Friday at the Island Institute to try to develop a unified island proposal that can be taken to the Legislature. Carol said that the islands had been well represented and effective at the hearing. Leon mentioned the substantial debt Chebeague has incurred to leave SAD 51. Donna said she had mentioned it in her testimony. Carol has also met with the Commissioner of Education and had talked about the debt; the Commissioner understands about this. One issue that may either help or hurt the islands is that small, isolated mainland towns are arguing that they are very much like the islands. Donna reiterated the importance of the islands coming up with their own proposal by March 15.
Leila Bisharat asked what the potential benefits of consolidation might be to Chebeague. Carol White said that the major positive impacts would be in the area of special education and joint administrative services like payrolls and purchasing. She said that some consolidated structure could provide teachers with a larger group that they could work with. Donna said that the big problem would be the loss of local control.
Beth gave a short report on the project with Herb Maine to develop a database for tracking proposals through the TC process. She handed out two sample outputs and asked if people had a preference of what kind of output they would like. Donna Damon and Leon Hamilton said that they really want to see what happens to recommendations from subcommittees and do not need to see all the motions. Carol White said she liked the summary sheet. Donna said that she has the language of all the recommendations in a notebook that Herb and Beth could use.
Memoranda of Understanding: no report.
Who will pay for Education Subcommittee hiring ads? David Hill said that if the CPA was paying for the ads this would be a donation and should be acted on by the TC as such. Leon Hamilton moved, seconded by Mark Dyer to accept the donation. David said he would vote against it. He was grateful to the CPA but thought that paying for the ads should be a municipal function. It was not something that would directly benefit the school children. Mark Dyer argued that it would benefit the children and the whole community. Carol White agreed with Mark and said she thought a decision on this had been made last week. Beth looked at the minutes aid said this had been implied. David said he had made the original motion and that was not his intent. Jim Phipps said it was within the discretion of the CPA Board to decide if it fits their mission and he had no objection to accepting the money. Donna Damon agreed with David. Carol White said she needs money for ads now and that it would be possible for the first Town Meeting to reimburse the CPA. Donna moved, seconded by David to amend the motion to have the Town Meeting reimburse the CPA [no committee Town Meeting reimburse CPA]. The motion passed with 6 votes in favor and two (Mark Dyer and Leon Hamilton) opposed. The vote on the main motion to accept the CPA donation passed with 6 in favor and Mark and Leon abstaining.
Reports by Non-Reporting Subcommittees:
Education Subcommittee: Carol White said that the Education Subcommittee will submit its recommendations next week. They would like 45 minutes to an hour to provide information that would give the TC background for reading the proposals. She said she hoped the TC would act on the recommendations the week following.
Governmental Structure: Donna Damon said that next week her committee will have recommendations on the Town office hours and the hiring of a deputy clerk for $15,000 to fill in at the office. She also needs language for the municipal job ad about responsibilities of and qualifications for proposed jobs from the various subcommittees.
Public Safety: Doug Ross made recommendations [attached: PS hire constable] to recommend to the first Town Meeting to hire a constable/reserve officer. It may not prove to be possible to get the County Sheriff¹s Department to send someone out in the summer, so the constable may be essential. Jim Phipps asked how much time the $8775 salary for the constable would cover. Doug said that for the three summer months the constable would work 15 hours per week and for the nine other months s/he would work ten hours per week. Vehicle maintenance is on the existing car. David Hill moved, seconded by Leon Hamilton to accept the recommendation on the constable. Passed unanimously.
Doug then recommended that the TC recommend to the first Town Meeting that it hire an animal control officer [attached: PS hire animal control officer]. This position is required by state law. Carol White asked about training. Doug said that there is some training by the Department of Agriculture but at no cost. Leon Hamilton asked whether the constable could do this work as well. Doug said yes, but that it might be easier to get applicants if the two positions were listed separately. The animal control function also requires having an arrangement with an animal shelter. Doug included $500 for this, but it might be less. Donna Damon asked whether the animal control officer caries a gun. The answer was no. Leon moved, seconded by Jim Phipps to approve the recommendation on the animal control officer. Approved unanimously.
The hope is that both of these positions would be filled by islanders, but this cannot be assumed.
Finance: David Hill reminded the others that their budgets are due on February 15. These are only preliminary numbers but assembling them does mean that the TC is on the verge of having a draft budget.
Marine Issues: Leon provided job descriptions for the harbormaster and shellfish warden [attached: MI 4 recommendations: job description of harbormaster, salary of harbormaster, job description of shellfish warden, salary of shellfish warden] and asked that they be adopted. He said he thought it was better both for the Town and the employee to have set salaries rather than an hourly wage. He determined the salaries from data on positions in this area; and he included no benefits. The shellfish warden is expected to work three hours per day five days per week, with some extra time for court appearances and reports. The harbormaster would work six days per week from May to October, plus some time for reports.
Donna Damon asked whether there are some jobs that are defined by the state as being hourly and others as salaried. Jim Phipps said the employer defines this but if the employee is not ³exempt² then the state can divide the pay by the hours worked to see if they are making minimum wage. If these employees work more than 40 hours per week they have to be paid overtime.
Leon moved that the job descriptions and the salaries be adopted. Donna seconded. Passed unanimously.
Steve Moriarty and Carol White left.
Donna Damon asked David Hill who would be making recommendations about vacation days and other benefits. David said he has had to have this information for filling out insurance applications. He recommended adopting the Cumberland Human Resources Manual to cover such policies. He said he thought these benefits should be the same for all employees. Donna asked whether the Town should pay transportation costs for employees coming out from the mainland. Some people on her subcommittee feel strongly that islanders are not paid for their transportation, so Town employees should not be. David, Mark Dyer and Leon Hamilton all said it is an old issue with CTC that people who commute out to Chebeague from the mainland cannot get commuter tickets. Mark said that some subcommittee should look at this issue. It may be difficult to have no transportation stipend for the teachers. Donna suggested including it in more general stipend.
The agenda listed an Executive Session but it was 10:00 and everyone was tired. John Martin suggested having all Executive Sessions on Sunday mornings. David Hill said that items could be accumulated until they made a meeting¹s worth of issues and then a meeting could be held. Donna Damon suggested having an Executive Session soon on benefits and the HR manual. David said this is a policy not a personnel discussion and need not be done in Executive Session. Others said that personnel issues might get mixed into the discussion. John asked if there should be a meeting this Sunday. Donna and Mark suggested getting the HR material from Cumberland and putting off the meeting for a week.