Sullivan repeats town meeting

SULLIVAN — Residents of Sullivan had to sit through a rerun of their July 25 annual Town Meeting, as the town held a special town meeting on Aug. 22 to redo the voting on the original Town Meeting warrant.

Due to a procedural error, Peter Drinkwater was sworn in as moderator at the July 25 meeting, but there was no vote beforehand. Town officials said there was confusion because the date of town meeting and town elections did not coincide this year.

Elections were held on the last Monday in June, but the annual town meeting was postponed until July 25.

The Select Board thought it best to hold an entirely new meeting with the same warrant, where special care was taken to correctly nominate and vote on a moderator. No articles on the warrant had changed, only the moderator and the procedure of electing said moderator.

“We’re trying to rectify the mistake … by bringing citizens of the town back together to vote on this warrant,” said Select Board chair Mike Pinkham Sr.

Harvey Kelley was nominated to serve as moderator at this meeting, and resident John Keenan nominated himself as well.

Some residents took issue with town clerk Jessica Parker counting ballots for the moderator vote. One resident requested that some residents who are not town officials be selected to count ballots impartially, but state law dictates that ballots be counted by the town clerk. A compromise was reached where three residents, Gary Edwards, Barbara Raymond and Keith Hamill, were chosen to oversee the clerk’s counting of the ballots.

“People think that maybe we’d do something underhanded to keep Mr. Keenan from being elected moderator,” said Pinkham after the meeting on why some residents did not trust the town clerk to count the ballots.

Kelley received the vote and was sworn in as moderator.

The residents in attendance had much to discuss regarding the budget items on the warrant, all of which had previously passed as written on July 25.

Instead of passing the motion to approve the Budget Committee that had been elected at the previous meeting, two residents said they would like to be a part of the decision-making process and nominated themselves to the committee. Keith Hamill and William Andrews were added to the committee.

All other items on the warrant were passed as they had been at the July 25 meeting, but many prompted lengthy discussion and debate, and, in two cases, proposed amendments.

Article 14 proposed a weight limit ordinance for heavy trucks in the town. This proposed ordinance was met with harsh criticism due to a lack of descriptive wording on the warrant. The language of the article did not specify what the weight limit was, where it would be posted and on what roads the ordinance would be enforced. This prompted residents to ask the board what purpose the ordinance would serve.

The ordinance was put together with the intention of limiting large trucks using Taunton Drive as a way to get to and from the proposed quarry in Franklin. Taunton Drive is a way that the quarry trucks could bypass driving through Franklin, and residents who live on Taunton Drive opposed this. Some citizens were concerned that the ordinance could inadvertently restrict other businesses and prevent people from having certain services at their homes. Select Board member Bethany Leavitt explained the exceptions to the ordinance.

“There are some limitations, meaning you can’t restrict somebody from getting oil delivered,” Leavitt said. “You also can’t restrict somebody from getting animal feed deliveries.”

As for trucks that are not delivering feed or oil, they must obtain a permit from the town before taking a truck that exceeds the weight limit on Taunton Drive. The article eventually passed as written.

Article 17, which appropriated funds for the payment of the town administration, also prompted some lengthy discussion. The budgeted amount was $418,594, and it covered assessing, payroll, insurance, operating expenses, community events and the comprehensive plan. This article was one of two that had proposed amendments from resident John Keenan.

Keenan addressed the meeting, saying that Select Board members failed to include their own salaries within this article, and that according to another law, if the Select Board does this, they will be paid $10 per day. Keenan proposed an amendment to the article for the town treasurer to have a moratorium on the payment of town officials until a report is made on how much the selectmen are making. The amendment went to a vote but failed and the article then passed as written.

Keenan also proposed an amendment on Article 30, which was to see if the town would raise and appropriate funds for contributions to various community agencies, including the American Red Cross, community health organizations, several food pantries, public broadcasting, the Ellsworth Public Library, Little League baseball and many others.

Keenan moved that an amendment be made to the article that would increase the Little League contribution from $250 to $1,000. This amendment went to a vote but failed and the article was passed as written.

All other items on the agenda passed as written, as they had at the July 25 meeting.

Malachy Flynn

Reporter Malachy Flynn covers news on the Schoodic beat, which includes the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Sorrento, Sullivan, Trenton, Waltham, and Winter Harbor. He also reports on the town of Tremont on Mount Desert Island. He welcomes tips and suggestions about stories in the area. To contact Malachy with tips or questions, email him at [email protected].

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