DEXTER — The Town Council is supporting a move to increase the membership of the local board of appeals from five to seven members.
Because the town charter allows for five members, residents will be asked to approve the change during a referendum question in November. State law allows a membership of up to seven.
Board member Bill Gelzinis recommended the increase to the council for the "betterment of the town." He said Monday that the board's biggest problem is reaching a quorum at its meetings because some members leave the area during the winter. By state law, the board must act on matters within a certain time period. Most other government boards, he said, have seven members.
A review will begin soon of the town's public safety operations as directed by the council. Town Manager Robert Simpson believes it has been about 20 years since a thorough study has been conducted on the operations.
Simpson originally had proposed that six community members and a Town Council representative serve on the review committee. Since the announcement of the committee's formation, the town manager said much interest has been expressed from individuals who want to assist. Because of this, the council agreed to appoint 10 residents to serve on the committee with representation from the ambulance service and fire and police departments.
"This committee will function as a think tank to come up with recommendations and [ways] to do business better," Simpson said Monday. The first meeting will be held on March 27 in the council chambers.
It is Simpson's plan to extend the review in future months to other government functions, such as public works.
In other news, Simpson said he has not received any response to his written and telephone inquiries from the Maine Emergency Management Agency regarding its decision to upgrade the Wassookeag Dam to a high hazard classification. The town manager called the small dam a "little sluice gate" that did not warrant such a classification.
"This puts us in a different league," he said, adding that it has far-reaching implications. Until the town receives an explanation why the classification was changed, the actions requested of the town will not be taken, he said. These actions include the development of an emergency action plan and flow charts.
The council, in recent action, voted to establish a development district at the Dexter Regional Airport. The creation of the district is intended to improve the physical facilities and structures within the district, to improve the traffic flow within the district and to encourage economic development.
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