Drive-through voting postponed in Blue Hill



BLUE HILL — The town of Blue Hill had been thinking outside the box, the ballot box that is, to ensure public safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Town officials had arranged for drive-through voting for the annual Town Meeting polls, which had been scheduled for Friday, April 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

However, in light of Governor Janet Mill’s stay-at-home order effective April 2-30, the drive-through polling plans have been postponed.

Also postponed until further notice is the annual Town Meeting, which had been tentatively scheduled for April 25.

If you would like an absentee ballot, call the town office at 374-2281.

A Maine Municipal Association executive had called Blue Hill’s proposed drive-through polling station “ingenious.”

“The only thing that I know of that comes remotely close to that level of ingenuity is the town of Benton held its town meeting outside,” said Kate Dufour, director of state and federal regulations staff for Maine Municipal Association.

The town office staff, with help from the Blue Hill Fire Department, selectmen and volunteers, were going to set up a drive-through polling station in the Blue Hill Consolidated School gymnasium parking lot.

The selectmen had voted unanimously in favor of the plan at the board’s March 25 meeting, which was held online at gotomeeting.com.

Before the postponement of Friday’s election, Blue Hill voters had been set to vote on two proposed ordinances, proposed expenditures and the election of town officials. Selectman Ellen Best is running unopposed for a second three-year term.

There is a contested race for two three-year terms on the Blue Hill School Board. Longtime former School Board member John “Ben” Wootten is seeking election, as are residents Joanne Barrett and Seanna Macomber. No one is running for Planning Board, although two seats are vacant.

Road Commissioner William “Bill” Cousins is running unopposed for another two-year term.

In referendum matters, voters eventually will consider whether to enact the Blue Hill Healthy Ecosystem Ordinance, which would ban the sale and use of pesticides in town.

Voters also will consider whether to enact the Unencapsulated Polystyrene Ordinance. The measure would eliminate the use of unencapsulated polystyrene in docks, buoys, mooring systems and flotation devices on any of Blue Hill’s bodies of water.

In town finance issues, voters will be asked whether to raise and appropriate $37,500 from property tax for additional tuition payments to George Stevens Academy beyond the maximum tuition rate set by the state. The selectmen and the Budget Committee recommend voting no.

Another question is whether the town should raise and appropriate $250,000 from property taxes to start a major road improvement project starting with trimming, ditching and culvert replacement along town roads. Both selectmen and Budget Committee members recommend voting yes.

Finally, voters will decide whether the town will appropriate $20,000 for the Army Corps of Engineers to complete the harbor dredging study. Blue Hill has spent $104,000 on the study to date. The selectmen recommend voting yes. The Budget Committee does not have a recommendation.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

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