Boothbay selectmen adjust meeting protocol due to health standards

Town manager discovered conference room too small for public meetings
Thu, 09/10/2020 - 5:00pm

    Boothbay selectmen’s meeting format is changing due to a Maine Center for Disease Control rule interpretation. In June, the board returned to in-person meetings with limited public participation. But that changed on Sept. 8, as selectmen returned to allowing only four people assembled in the conference room and others participated by Webex virtual conferencing.

    Board Chairman Steve Lewis was joined by three other selectmen, Mike Tomacelli, Dale Harmon and Chuck Cunningham, in the conference room. Selectman Desiree Scorcia attended online. Town Manager Dan Bryer participated online in his office. The format change occurred after Bryer checked  CDC guidelines for public meetings after Scorcia requested last month all meeting participants wear masks.

    Bryer learned the board complied with CDC guidelines by remaining maskless while seated six feet apart. But those guidelines were for rooms with at least 1,000 square feet. The municipal building’s conference room is between 800 and 1,000 square feet. “I wanted to double check to see if we were in compliance and we were except for the room size,” Bryer said. “We’re close if you include the kitchen in the square footage, but the decision was made to return to public participation by Webex.”

    During the Sept. 8 meeting, selectmen held the first of two public hearings on the municipal zoning ordinance rewrite. Since 2015, the planning board has worked on revisions. Planning Board Chairman Sam Morris and consultant Mark Eyerman briefly discussed attorney Sally Daggett’s suggestions during the hearing. No residents commented about the proposed ordinance revision which is slated for a Nov. 3 public vote. A second public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14.

    In other action, Bryer reported the town’s seven-year agreement with Revision Energy expires this year and the town needs to decide whether or not to buy the solar panels for $1. In 2013, Boothbay Solar Array was created to produce solar power with panels installed at the public works department. The refuse district and town formed Boothbay Solar Array which committed to buying Revision Energy solar power for seven years.

    Selectmen appointed Micheal Leighton as a planning board alternate. The board also decided to seek a replacement for refuse district trustee Kirk Brewer after he resigned due taking an out-of-state job. Bryer reported one person has already expressed interest, but the board decided to post the vacancy for 30 days. Lewis, who is the refuse district manager, reported there was no imminent need to fill the seat. “We don’t begin developing a budget until November so there is no rush in finding a replacement,” he said. 

    Selectmen meet next at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23.