As the Unorganized Territories supervisor for Hancock County, Millard Billings manages more land than some small European countries — Andorra, Leichtenstein and Luxembourg come to mind — contain.
The Unorganized Territories date to the colonial era, when surveyors laid out townships across eastern Maine. In time, residents in particular townships organized town governments (Ellsworth upgraded to city status), but in the early 21st century, Hancock County still has 15 unorganized territories, and “33 offshore islands make up what we call the 16th,” but do not fall within a numbered township, Millard said.
The 15 townships in Hancock County are:
- Township 7, bordered by Gouldsboro, Steuben, and Sullivan.
- Fletchers Landing (Township 8) between Ellsworth and Waltham.
- Township 9, east of Franklin.
- Township 10, between Township 9 and Cherryfield.
- Township 16, east of Eastbrook.
- Township 22, east of Osborn. The Airline Snack Bar and sections of routes 9 and 193 are located in this township.
- Township 28, east of Aurora.
- Township 32, between Great Pond and Milford.
- Townships 34 and 35, between Great Pond and the Washington County border.
- Townships 39, 40, and 41, north of Great Pond and townships 34 and 35.
- Township 3, “north of Nicatous Lake,” according to Millard.
- Township 4 (also known as Oquiton Township), east of Township 3 in northernmost Hancock County.
“Basically the county commissioners act as the selectmen of the Unorganized Territories, and I act as the town manager to carry out the will of the commissioners,” Millard said. A Franklin resident, he grew up in Franklin and graduated from Ellsworth High School.
The Unorganized Territories receive services similar to those available in Hancock County towns. According to Millard, “we have some roads that we’re responsible for.” The county contracts snowplowing on Route 179 in Fletchers Landing and Route 193 in Township 22.
Hancock County has full responsibility for other roads, such as the northernmost 990 feet of the Gouldsboro Point Road in Township 7 and “the Martins Ridge Road in Township 9, to where it comes out into the blueberry fields,” Millard said. Other roads are scattered across other townships.
Hancock County contracts some services with adjoining towns. Steuben plows the Township 7 roads and Franklin the Martins Ridge Road, Millard noted. Independent contractors plow all but the 5¾-mile Nicatous Road in Township 3; Penobscot County plows that road under contract.
For trash removal, “we contract with the adjacent municipalities,” Millard said, noting that Ellsworth covers trash removal in Fletchers Landing. People living in townships 3 and 4 and the northern half of Township 41 take their trash to the Lowell transfer station.
Hancock County contracts fire department coverage with neighboring towns or volunteer fire departments and with Northern Light Medical Transport for EMS coverage. “We contract for animal-control services … only for domestic animals,” Millard said. The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and Maine State Police provide law enforcement coverage.
“The schools are done by the state,” Millard said. The Land Use Regulatory Commission handles code enforcement and Maine Revenue Services handles tax assessing, tax billing, and tax collecting. The state decides where UT residents can vote.
The Unorganized Territories in Hancock County have not changed since Great Pond and Osborn became towns in the latter 20th century.