Mount Desert Fire Chief Mike Bender congratulates Stuart Burr, who stepped down last fall after more than 50 years as a volunteer firefighter in Mount Desert. At town meeting on Tuesday, Bender presented Burr with an award for “exceptional service” and Town Manager Durlin Lunt presented him with the town’s second annual Spirit of America Award. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Main Street gets nod, no pot vote, Dudman, Chaplin elected

MOUNT DESERT — Martha Dudman was re-elected to a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen in voting here Monday. She outpolled Stephanie Reece 181-123.

School Committee member Heather Jones, who ran unopposed, was re-elected to a three-year term.

Three members of the Mount Desert Youth in Politics group gather around town meeting moderator Bill Ferm as he begins to tabulate votes following Monday’s municipal election at the Somesville fire station. They are, from left, Logan Reece, Shep Brown and Penelope Brown. PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER MITCHELL

Three people who did not file for election but ran as write-in candidates for an open seat on the School Committee received votes: Kate Chaplin – 73; Tracy Miller – 70; and Keith Johnston – 41. That result means that Chaplin, who previously served on the Cranberry Isles School Committee, will serve a one-year term, with the seat being up for election again next May.

Chaplin also received eight write-in votes for one of Mount Desert’s seats on the MDI High School Trustees Board. She has accepted that post as well and will serve a one-year term.

Tony Smith was re-elected to a three-year term as a high school trustee.

Main Street makeover survives

At the open floor town meeting Tuesday night, voters authorized the town to borrow up to $3.96 million for improvements to Main Street in Northeast Harbor. The vote was 98-71.

The project includes re-engineering the intersections at either end of Main Street, building a sidewalk on the east side of the street, widening the sidewalk on the west side and burying utility lines.

Several people at town meeting objected to the cost of the Main Street project, questioning whether the improvements are worth it.

“I’m afraid we’re putting an unnecessary burden on our taxpayers, and we’re adding 33 percent to our total indebtedness,” said resident Lewis Moore. “I think this is excessive and heavy-handed, and it’s going to cost people who can’t afford it a lot of money.

“I’d be much more interested in making improvements that are necessary not only in Northeast Harbor, but in a lot of our villages,” he continued. “We don’t have the only bad sidewalks in town.”

Three members of the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Durlin Lunt spoke in favor of the project, as did several members of the public.

“There’s never a good time to put money into maintenance, but there were a lot of people 50 years ago, 100 years ago, who did a lot of things for this town that we all appreciate,” said Sam Shaw, whose jewelry store is on Main Street. “I feel an obligation at this time to put money into the taxes to improve our village center for the generations to come.”

Sam Coplon headed the citizens’ advisory committee for the design of the Main Street project. He said at town meeting that even though he lives in Somesville, “I was moved to join the committee because I felt the economic and commercial heart of our town was pretty tired and pretty sad.

“This is a golden opportunity to step up and improve Main Street,” he continued. “From my point of view, what it will do to my taxes is essentially a couple of tanks of gas. And I’d rather see that money spent here.”

Town meeting voters also authorized borrowing up to $500,000 for the second half of the reconstruction of Route 198 between Parkman Mountain and Eagle Lake Road. The state will match that amount.

Voters also approved a bond issue of up to $650,000 for a storm water drainage improvement project in the Sylvan Road neighborhood of Northeast Harbor.

Also approved was a $9.6 million municipal budget for next fiscal year, which is an increase of 4.2 percent over the current year’s budget, and a $4 million budget for Mount Desert Elementary School, which represents a 5.4 percent increase.

No moratorium vote

A proposed six-month moratorium on the cultivation and retail sale of recreational marijuana in Mount Desert was “passed over” at town meeting because of an opinion of one of the town’s attorneys, Andy Hamilton, that because of the new state law governing recreational marijuana, a local moratorium was “moot and unnecessary.”

He wrote in letter to Lunt on Monday that marijuana establishments “are not permitted in the town unless the town meeting, at a later date, votes to allow recreational marijuana establishments.”

No chicken limits

The only warrant article that didn’t pass was a proposed change in the land use zoning ordinance that would have limited to six the number of chickens that could be kept on any single lot in any zoning district. Currently, that limit applies only in the Village Commercial District.

Code Enforcement Officer Kim Keene said the proposed change was prompted by “multiple” complaints about noise.

But several people at town meeting said it wouldn’t be fare to impose the same restrictions on a large lot in a rural part of town as on a small lot in a built-up area.

Updated May 22 at 9:30 a.m.



Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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