Bremen voters approved an amendment to the shoreland-zoning ordinance and a secondary-education budget down 10.79 percent from the previous year at annual town meeting on Saturday, March 26.
Voters approved all 49 articles on the warrant, including the municipal budget.
AOS 93 Superintendent Steve Bailey was on hand to present the secondary-education budget. The budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year totals $425,600, down from the last fiscal year’s total of $477,081.
The town’s share for the next fiscal year is down by a total amount of $55,148.11.
In the municipal budget, articles appropriating funds for town officers’ salaries and benefits, $168,600; operating accounts, $115,050; and roads and bridges, $271,495; all received approval during town meeting.
Voters amended just one article, increasing appropriations for charitable contributions by $300 to match last year’s appropriation from the town to Mobius.
The article covering money for shellfish operations was also passed by voters.
Selectman Boe Marsh said Article 22 is a self-generating fund, where money is raised from license fees.
He voiced his support for the budget committee recommendation for a transfer of $13,650 from the shellfish license account to the general fund.
Marsh also said that, though only $6,744 was spent last year, he believes the recommended figure is necessary.
“We feel that though they underspent, they should have spent more, and that we have a lot of work to do in that area, and we think that the $13,650 is appropriate for what needs to get done,” Marsh said.
Voters discussed article 40, $3,000 for the town’s conservation land use reserve fund.
Bremen resident Harold Schramm spoke against the article, saying the Bremen Conservation Commission does not have a project slated for the next year to spend the money.
Members of the conservation commission said the money would be useful when applying for grants, and could also go toward ongoing conservation efforts.
Selectman Wendy Pieh said she agreed with the recommended appropriation for the fund.
“It does speak well if we want to go for any type of grant. It’s not a lot of money, but it adds up slowly,” Pieh said.
After the conversation, voters passed the article.
One of the final items voted on during the town meeting proved to be one of the most debated.
A back-and-forth discussion preceded the approval of article 48, regarding a petition to enact an amendment to the Bremen Shoreland Zoning Ordinance to change a 140-foot portion of property on Greenland Cove from resource protection to shoreland residential.
According to the ordinance, the resource protection district includes areas in which development would adversely affect water quality, productive habitat, biological ecosystems, or scenic and natural values.
Residential districts include those areas suitable for residential and recreational development, including areas other than those in the resource protection district, stream protection district, or the commercial fisheries/maritime activities district.
In a letter to the town, Kenneth Shapiro, the property owner, said the change would allow him to build a dock, greatly improve access to his property on Keene Neck Road on Greenland Island.
Shapiro has received letters from federal and state agencies about the project, and the agencies did not object to the work. Shapiro said the only stipulation from the Department of the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers was that construction not take place during bird-nesting season.
Concerns about whether granting the petition would create a precedent for amending town ordinances were aired during the discussion.
“I think this is a very important issue and what we are being asked to do is to vitiate the ordinance that exists now in favor of a single individual … I think there is a danger here that this opens up a slippery slope and now other individuals can come forward and ask for a dispensation as well, and that will destroy the whole fabric of the law that we have,” Schramm said.
Bremen Planning Board member Walter Voskian said the board denied Shapiro’s application in April 2014 because construction of piers and docks is not permitted in the resource protection zone.
“This is going to establish a precedent if it’s approved. Zoning is done for a reason and in this case I think it’s to protect our valuable resources. I feel personally that our collective well-being in this town depends upon protecting our natural resources,” Voskian said.
Though the initial vote appeared as if a hand count would be necessary to approve the petition, another show of hands revealed that the article passed.
State Sen. Chris Johnson, D-Somerville, and Lincoln County Commissioner William Blodgett were among the elected officials from outside Bremen present for the town meeting. Senate District 13 candidate Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro, was also present.
Before the annual meeting got underway, Pieh recognized the work done by Deputy Town Clerk Martha Varsano over the years.
Varsano is retiring, and Pieh expressed her appreciation for Varsano’s service to the town.