Residents overwhelmingly voted to allow the comprehensive plan committee to continue working on shaping the future of Bristol, during the annual town meeting on March 22.
Voters also approved the appropriation of $60,000 in surplus funds for professional assistance to complete the committee’s task. The committee will look to hire a consultant and will issue a report to the town in 2023.
The other 46 warrant articles passed with little to no opposition. More than 100 people attended the meeting, and moderator Don Means kept the meeting moving at a brisk pace – it took a little more than an hour to complete.
The comprehensive plan committee was approved by voters at last year’s town meeting to address the town’s comprehensive plan – the plan was approved in 2004 but not approved by the Maine State Planning Office because it didn’t address town-wide zoning. Committee leaders Richard Francis and Jessica Yates gave a presentation to voters prior to the warrant article vote.
With voter approval, the committee will continue to help the town prioritize projects and help town leaders make decisions about natural resources, climate resiliency, housing, land use and investments.
The committee launched an outreach campaign – with less in-person contact because of the pandemic – that included fliers and posters around town and a five-question survey asking residents what they like about Bristol, what concerns they have, what they envision for the town’s future and whether they want a comprehensive plan.
Overall, Bristol voters considered new requests from elected officials, including approving $150,000 in funding for the completion of the final phase of the Bristol Mills dam and fish ladder – there is about $147,000 in grants and donations being carried forward from 2021. Last year, voters approved more than $547,000 in funding for the fish ladder project.
Voters approved spending $3,381,644.36 to run the municipal government. That number represented an increase of nearly $200,000, or around 6%. The increase will be offset by a record surplus amount of more than $1.5 million. The tax rate for 2022 won’t be determined until the school budget is finalized. Last year, Bristol residents paid $7.20 per every $1,000 of assessed property value.
Town officials also asked for and received approval to appropriate $5,716,864.83 to help fund AOS 93, which includes Bristol, South Bristol, Damariscotta, Newcastle, Jefferson and Nobleboro. That figure is nearly $390,000 more than last year.
There were 469 ballots cast for five elected positions during voting held on March 21.
Kristine Poland retained her seat on the select board. She received 240 votes; Paul Leeman, Jr., received 219. Jessica DiMauro and June Donenfeld were elected to the school committee and Clyde Pendleton, Sr., was re-elected to the parks and recreation commission.
Additionally, Andrew Poland and Andrea Perley retained their seats on the planning board.