Southwest Harbor Board of Selectmen chairman resigns

SOUTHWEST HARBOR —With less than two months left to complete her three-year term on the Board of Selectmen, Chairman Kristin Hutchins has resigned.

Dated May 12, a day after the board’s last meeting, Hutchins wrote the following to her fellow board members: “Please accept this letter as a notice of my resignation from the Southwest Harbor Select Board.” No reason was listed, only Hutchins’s signature.

When asked by the Islander the reason, Hutchins said, “I’ve lost confidence in the board’s ability to be productive. It’s a waste of time and I’ve got nothing to prove.”

During the May 11 meeting, selectmen voted 3-2 to not go forward with the application process for a Land Water and Conservation Fund grant that would help finance proposed developments to a property at 392 Main Street. Hutchins and board member Carolyn Ball, who were in favor of pursuing the grant, were the two opposing votes.

The LWCF grant was being sought for the Main Street property that neighbors Chris’s Pond, a popular recreation spot in town, as well as for a project to develop the Manset Dock property on Shore Road. Applying for grant funds for the latter project was voted down the previous evening by the Harbor Committee. Without support to apply for the grant funding for either project, Article 43 on this year’s upcoming Town Meeting warrant was to become a non-article. At their meeting on Tuesday, a vote to rescind the article died because of a tie on the Board of Selectmen due to Hutchins’ absence leaving it to remain on the warrant.

Owners of the Main Street property have offered to sell it to the town at a cost lower than the real estate market could attract. Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the town’s Conservation Committee were working on aspects of the proposed project that would increase parking to Chris’s Pond. Island Housing Trust was also involved in collaborating to build an affordable housing unit on a portion of the property.

After a proposal was presented to the Board of Selectmen by a representative of the Conservation Committee, one board member voiced concerns about decreasing the neighbor’s property value. After some discussion, a motion was made to not pursue the grant money by not submitting an application that is due at the end of May. Board members George Jellison, Allen ‘Snap’ Willey and Chad Terry all voted in favor.

“I’m angry but I’m speechless,” said Hutchins in response to the outcome. She explained how it was sad to see people put in so much work to create a proposal for the property and have it turned down without an opportunity to put it before voters.

“I’ve lost my temper and I haven’t regained it yet,” said Hutchins, who had not taken out papers to run for a seat on the board. Her last meeting would have been at the end of June.

Dan Norwood, who has served on the Board of Selectmen before, is the only candidate running for the position left open by Hutchins. Until the election has taken place, the board will continue with four members.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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