Issuu on Google+

$42,000 gift The Bridgton Hospital Guild presents its annual donation to the local hospital; elects new officers Page 2B Fatal crash Inside News A Naples man dies when his car strikes a tree on Kansas Road Sunday afternoon Calendar . . . . . . . 6B, 8B Page 4A Classifieds . . . . . . . . . 4D Country Living . . . 2B-4B Directory . . . . . . . . . . 3D Obituaries . . . . . . . . . 6D Opinions . 1D-3D, 5D-7D Police/Court . . . . . . . . 4A Sports . . . . . . . . . 1C-6C Student News . . . . . . 6C Towns . . . . . . . . . 7B-8B Weather . . . . . . . . . . . 5D Vol. 142, No. 43 Serving Bridgton and the surrounding towns of Western Maine since 1870. 28 PAGES - 4 Sections Bridgton, Maine October 27, 2011 (USPS 065-020) SIXTY CENTS Ordinance changes to voters Dec. 13 By Lisa Williams Ackley Staff Writer Bridgton voters will decide in mid-December whether to approve proposed amendments to two local ordinances — Shoreland Zoning and Site Plan Review — that would allow more development in the Downtown District. The Bridgton Planning Board unanimously recommended forwarding the proposed ordinance changes, as amended, to the Bridgton Board of Selectmen Tuesday night. A short while later, the selectmen voted unanimously to set Dec. 13 as the date for a special referendum to vote on them. Under the proposed changes, there would be two separate districts in the Downtown — General Development I District and General Development II District. It was a round robin, Tuesday night, as the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen held separate, back-to-back public hearings in adjoining rooms on the proposed ordinance changes. At stake is the viability of a proposed $4 million 21-unit senior housing development at the former Chapter 11 build- ing on Main Street proposed by AVESTA Housing, as well as other commercial projects that may come along seeking to locate in the downtown corridor. Alan Manoian, Bridgton’s Econmoic and Community Development Director, said the future of development in the downtown area would hinge on these changes being passed by voters in the special referendum vote set for Dec. 13. “This would allow for good quality mixed use development, and it would be instrumental in getting the economic engine of downtown Bridgton going again,” Manoian said. “We’re lacking people living in the downtown, but if you add employees, residents and visitors, that’s when you get a critical mass of folks and people who say they want to open a business downtown…It is time for us to take the next step. We don’t want to see line after line of vacant storefronts. Now is the time for us to step up.” Manoian made it clear Oct. 25 that the proposed ordinance changes apply only to a specific area in downtown Bridgton. The proposed amendments CHANGES, Page A By Dawn De Busk Staff Writer CASCO – The format was clearly stated beforehand and followed accordingly, although the tone was sometimes harsh, as residents and public officials weighed in on the ballot issue to do another property valuation. The citizens’ signature petition, which will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, asks whether or not Casco voters support a complete revaluation of all property in the town. The ballot measure has a fiscal note of $290,000, which is the current rate for that type of revaluation. The town has $60,000 appropriated for its next revaluation – an amount that has been set aside since 2007. The referendum proposes to pay for the cost of a revaluation from the Undesignated Fund (or Surplus) Balance. During a public hearing on Oct. 18 at the Casco Community Center, people’s ENERGY EXPO — Casco Energy Committee members (from left to right) Lynn Potter, Barbara York, Peg Dilley, and MaryVienessa Fernandes hold earth-friendly plates and cups. The plates and cups are made from materials that compost in 30 to 45 days, and will be showcased during an Energy Expo and Small Business Fair held at the Casco Community Center in conjunction with Election Day on Nov. 8. See story on Page 2A. (De Busk Photo) Revaluation referendum revs up Casco residents opinions and questions were heard in the following order: those for the measure, those against the measure, those with a neutral stance, followed by questions from the public about the revaluation issue. The argument in favor of the revaluation — as outlined by resident Bob Levesque — was that the most recent revaluation in 2007 was done improperly. He said the 2007 revaluation was not done thoroughly — at a lower expense to the taxpayers. A complete revaluation would bring Casco property values more into line with what real estate is selling for, he said. Many of those who favored the valuation did so because there was a chance that if Casco properties were rated lower, the contribution from the state for education would raise. In recent years as the State of Maine’s ability to pledge money to education has decreased, the tax burden to local towns has increased. To counter this, an Essential Programs and Services formula was established to determine which school districts will pay more and which ones will be assisted by the state. Currently, Casco property owners saw the biggest increase in their bill to School Administrative District No. (SAD) No. 61, compared to consolidated communities of Naples, Bridgton and Sebago. According to SAD 61 Finance Coordinator Sherrie Small, a change to Casco’s property values does not necessarily spell out more state money or a lessened burden on taxpayers when it comes to footing the local education bill. “I don’t think a local revaluation will affect the town’s funding to the school because it’s based on the state numbers,” she said during a phone interview on Tuesday. Small said a 2011 state valuREVALUATION, Page A Assessor, resident catch bill error AMONG THE BEST — The Bridgton News received third place for General Excellence in the larger weekly newspaper division, for the second straight year. BNews wins 14 awards “Excellence is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution and the ability to see obstacles as opportunities,” — Unknown Author For the third straight year, The Bridgton News has been selected as one of Maine’s top weekly newspapers. The News received third place honors in General Excellence in the Weekly 2 category of the 2011 Maine Press Association Better Newspaper Contest. The News competes against the larger weekly publications from across the state. Two years ago, The News was named the MPA’s “Newspaper of the Year,” and followed up that honor with a third place in General Excellence last fall. “After placing third last year, I challenged The News staff to strive for reporting excellence — to keep the newspaper in the conversation as one of the state’s top publications. I encouraged them to think outside of the box when pursuing various stories and ideas,” Editor Wayne E. Rivet said. “I also urged them to take some chances — take on stories outside of their comfort zone and outside of their regular news assignments. In winning 14 awards, the entire staff rose to the challenge. Speaking for the Shorey family, we are very proud of these accomplishments. These honors represent a lot of hard work, determination, skillful reporting and creative writing.” • First place awards went to: S. Peter Lewis for Local Columns. One of the winning col- BN AWARDS, Page A By Dawn De Busk Staff Writer CASCO — By early September, Casco’s property tax bills were in mail boxes. It was mid-October before anyone brought the error to the attention of town employees. On Oct. 18, during a public hearing for a citizens’ signature petition, resident Eileen Tidd asked why the taxes to the municipality had increased by 19 percent. When she studied her tax bill, the falsely-inflated percentage increase from last year’s taxes to the 2011–12 bill was disconcerting, Tidd said. “In looking at my most recent tax bill — compared to the last three years, what stood out the most for me was the percentage that goes to the town” had jumped considerably,” Tidd said. Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said the actual increase in the portion of taxes that goes to the Town of Casco is closer to a one percent increase. She added she probably was not the only person in town to notice this discrepancy, by now. Morton said, prior to her saying something, the mistake had been mentioned to him by one other person — the town’s new assessor that same morning. The bill erroneously showed “an incredible increase in the amount” of taxes supporting the town budget, he said. For the town, the percentage of increase shown on the bill was the wrong number, Morton said, during an interview on Tuesday. The percentages for School Administrative District (SAD) No. 61 and Cumberland County are pretty much the same as last year,” Morton said, on Tuesday. On Oct. 19, the town’s auditor, Bruce Meadow, a certified public accountant (CPA) with HR Smith & Company Auditors showed Morton the mistake he had run across. “He came by the office and told me,” Morton said. “He came about the information while answering questions for someone.” Meadow heads the team of auditors doing the audit on the 2010–11 budget. The Casco Board of Selectmen recently hired HR Smith through a bidding process. Morton said it would be too expensive to resend all the bills, especially since the incorrect information doesn’t confuse people about the amount of their bill, which is correct. Resident Alice Darlington said the mistake was something people in the community should know about. ERROR, Page A By Gail Geraghty Staff Writer WATERFORD — John and Debbie Howe have spent four and a half years and $35,000 fighting the Waterford Fish & Game Club over the “sporadic torment of gunfire” they’ve endured since the club expanded their Route 118 shooting range. Seven days a week during daylight hours, they and their neighbors hear bullets blasting apart clay pigeons, police officers target-practicing with automatic handguns and the reports of rifles and pistols being fired. From their farm- house and 175 acres across the Crooked River up on McIntire Road, a mile and a quarter away, they say they can clearly hear the gun noise inside their barn, work areas and sometime even inside their home, with doors and windows closed. Their efforts to protect their private property rights have been a “long, expensive and emotionally devastating” experience, one in which they first appealed to the club, then to selectmen, and finally to superior court — all to no avail. Recently, after learning the club is protected from noise lawsuits by a three-year range protection law that dates back to 2006, when expansion began, they dropped their lawsuit, which wasn’t filed until 2010. Last Wednesday, the Howes appeared before the Waterford Planning Board, hoping to at least argue their case before the court of public opinion. “There isn’t much we can do, but we can listen to you,” said Board Chairman Tony Butterall, as the hour-anda-half hearing began. Later, member Colin Holme offered a bit more hope, promising to GUN CLUB, Page A Howes fight over gun club noise The Bridgton News Established 1870 P.O. Box 244, 118 Main St. Bridgton, ME 04009 207-647-2851 Fax: 207-647-5001


Related publications