BLUE HILL — Voters July 14 approved an ordinance banning the use of pesticides in town by a vote of 588-276. The Town Meeting vote was held by ballot due to COVID-19.
However, residents will have to vote on the pesticide ordinance again Nov. 3, according to organizers.
A Maine statute dealing with the Board of Pesticides Control requires that town clerks provide the board with a copy of any proposed ordinance at least seven days prior to any legislative body voting on the ordinance.
“When municipalities consider local pesticide ordinances, they must follow the guidance established by the Legislature,” said Jim Britt, spokesman for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Three Blue Hill residents, Rick Traub, Gabrielle Wellman and Semena Curlik, created the Blue Hill Healthy Ecosystem Ordinance.
The ecosystem ordinance will be presented to voters again during the Nov. 3 referendum, Traub said.
Britt said the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) is Maine’s lead agency for pesticide oversight.
“Policy decisions are made by a seven-member public board,” Britt said. “The BPC licenses pesticide applicators, licenses pesticide distributors, registers pesticides used in the state, provides public education, technical information, and assistance regarding pesticides administers federal and state pesticide laws and regulations and determines pesticide policy through regular public meetings.”
The pesticide board was established in 1965 and funded in 1969.
In other Town Meeting business, voters also approved an unencapsulated polystyrene ordinance 617-247, and that stands. The intent of the polystyrene ordinance is to eliminate the use of unencapsulated polystyrene in dock systems, floats, buoys, mooring systems and flotation devices in Blue Hill’s bodies of water, according to a copy of the ordinance. The unencapsulated polystyrene ordinance is also the work of Traub, Wellman and Curlik.
In spending articles, voters rejected by 463-372 an article that would have would have allocated an additional $37,500 tuition ($300 per student) for George Stevens Academy. The selectmen had recommended a “No” vote.
GSA has endured a $1-million revenue loss due to a drop in enrollment in its boarding program for international students, according to Head of School Tim Seeley. Last year, the school approached towns on the Blue Hill Peninsula who send students to the academy about providing additional tuition funds above the state-set tuition rate.
Seeley said that GSA had withdrawn its request for additional funds because of concerns about municipal budgets and the local economy this year.
“We will be going back to our towns this fall to resolve the issues,” Seeley said. “I do not believe the people of Blue Hill, or any of our towns, want GSA to go away, or become a much diminished school.”
In other business, residents approved spending $20,000 to complete the Blue Hill Harbor dredge study 539-296.
Voters approved education spending totaling $6,296,200.24 and municipal spending totaling $2,631,007, according to a copy of the ballot.
In election news, Selectman Ellen Best, who ran unopposed, was returned to a three-year term on the board with 663 votes.
A newcomer to the Blue Hill School Board, Joanne Barrett, was voted in with 529 votes.
Longtime School Board member Ben Wootten was returned to the board, beating out Seanna Macomber by a narrow margin of 391-387.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect comments from GSA Head of School Tim Seeley.