THOMASTON – Electoral Council Chairman Diane Guise did not find support for her idea of a digital municipal sign at the council’s election meeting on Monday, March 28th.
Giza had been proposing such a sign for more than a year, and the item was on the agenda of several council meetings. The digital municipal sign will inform residents about future events and meetings.
Guise said she often hears negative feedback from residents that they are unaware of the meetings, despite the fact that the city sends out newsletters and agendas via an email list as well as a meeting calendar on the city’s website.
Some residents have consistently spoken out against such a sign. Arguments against the project included that it could distract drivers, municipal funds could be better spent elsewhere, and questions about whether the city fully uses current methods of communication.
Joan Richards, chairman of the Planning Council, has repeatedly referred to city ordinances banning such a sign in most areas of the city.
Richards said the only areas in Thomastan where the digital sign can be used are commercial highway areas such as Buttermilk Lane.
At a meeting of the Thomaston Electoral Council on March 28, Guise proposed placing a sign at the Thomaston Mall.
Richards said Maine Department of Transportation regulations state that such a sign must be within 1,000 feet of the municipal building and must be on land owned by the city.
Guise said it means Thomaston Mall will be a suitable location.
Richards said the land use ordinance does not allow a sign in the area.
“I just feel like you’re trying to come up with all the reasons not to make a sign,” Guise said.
“I am outraged by the fact that you have twice said that I am negative and I am against everything,” Richards said.
Richards said she had no opinion on the project, but she said it would be legal. “There are rules and regulations that the state has. The city has rules approved by voters, ”Richards said.
Guise thanked Richards for her feedback and addressed the discussion.
In another case, the council announced John Howard the winner of the annual report cover contest with aerial photography of the harbor.
The council approved Doug’s Seafood’s application to renew their local license to sell malt liqueurs, wines and spirits.
The council set a date for a public hearing on Monday, April 11, at 6pm on seven items, including an updated wording of the ordinances and an application for an industrial marijuana license for Atticus Hill Farms LLC.
A draft warrant for the June City Assembly was discussed, which was then submitted to the Budget Committee for approval. The proposed article allowed the board to enter into an agreement with the Knox Clinic to occupy the unused part of the municipal building.
Prior to the June open meeting, the board will hold an information meeting to further discuss this and all articles of the warrant.
Board member Sandra Moore said she is concerned that the public clinic is so close to schools as well as where patients will stand.
Board member Zell Bauman-Laberge said the issue of expanding parking was discussed.
Moore asked who would pay for the work.
Bowman-Laberge said it would be part of discussions with Knox Clinic.
Richards said such a project must be submitted to the planning council for approval.
She also expressed concern that the city is giving away “free” space in the municipality building.
Bowman-Laberge said that although the nonprofit would not be charged rent, they would pay for utilities. The cost of repairing this wing of the municipal building also does not fall on taxpayers, she added.
The Knox Clinic is at the top of the list for funding the U.S. Rescue Plan, Bowman-Laberge said, because it serves the entire Knox County.
Knox Clinic is currently located on the campus of Pen Bay Medical Center and provides medical, mental and dental services.
More information about the Knox Clinic Warrant article will be available at a public information session, Bowman-Laberge said.
The full meeting can be viewed at townhallstreams.com/towns/thomaston_me.
The next meeting of the Thomaston Electoral Council will be held on Monday, April 11, at 6 p.m.
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