Planning commission studying Boothbay Harbor housing market

Thu, 05/20/2021 - 3:30pm

    Boothbay Harbor has entered into a contract with Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission to study local housing. The town is paying $9,181 for the study which includes an overview of housing conditions and trends on the peninsula. County Planner Emily Rabbe told county commissioners May 18, the study will review municipal code requirements, state housing records, real estate sales and rental records, and the 2018 Camoin Associates report commissioned by Boothbay Harbor and Boothbay. “We will be preparing an inventory of downtown apartments and will provide a written report to selectmen and planning board with suggestions concerning land use ordinances and future updates,” Rabbe said.

    In other action, Lincoln County Communications Center is getting some help reviewing emergency calls for quality assurance. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a three-year prepaid contract with Priority Dispatch of Salt Lake City. State law requires the center to review 160 calls per month, based on call volume, for quality assurance. In the past, supervisors performed the task, but the center is down a supervisor. County Administrator Carrie Kipfer sought approval to hire an outside firm to perform the task at about half the cost of hiring a new supervisor. The service’s annual cost is $34,560, but the county will receive a 20% discount by pre-paying for three years. Kipfer reported the discount brings the annual cost down to $27,648. Kipfer estimated it takes about 80 hours to review 160 calls for quality assurance.

    “Our supervisors should be supervising, and not spending all their time with quality review. If you didn’t approve this then I would’ve requested hiring another supervisor,” Kipfer said.

    The county has received federal guidelines from the U.S. Treasury on how to spend American Rescue Plan stimulus dollars, but has not received the funds. Kipfer reported one county has received the funds and didn’t know why Lincoln hadn’t. She also gave examples on allowed uses for the federal monies. Allowed uses include efforts addressing negative economic impact caused by COVID-19, serving the hardest hit families from the economic crisis, replacing lost public sector revenue, premium pay for essential workers, investing in water and sewer projects, and broadband expansion. Kipfer also gave examples of items not allowed under President Biden’s stimulus plan: Debt service and pension funds.

    Commissioners plan on meeting with department heads June 1 to consider ways for spending the stimulus funds. Commissioners will also meet separately with local legislators to consider potential county stimulus projects.

    Commissioner Hamilton Meserve received an email from a Boothbay constituent requesting Lincoln County drop the mask mandate for county facilities. Megan Clouse asked commissioners “to move Maine forward, and take a stand for the people and businesses of Lincoln County. Studies have been done and unless you have your heads in the sand, there is no reason to not give the people a choice when it comes to wearing or not wearing a mask,” she wrote. Kipfer reported the county will continue following state and federal guidelines.

    Commissioners approved buying two new PTZ (point, tilt, zoom) cameras for the county courthouse complex. Kipfer reported the cameras are malfunctioning by “freezing” every day. She also reviewed other cameras around the complex and discovered an overall updated camera system was needed. Kipfer contacted Cunningham Security Systems of Yarmouth for a quote on a complete upgrade for the estimated 13 complex cameras. Cunningham quoted $27,518 for a campus-wide upgrade. The upgrade will begin with two new communication center cameras costing $2,597.36 each.

    Commissioners meet next at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 1 at the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission building in Wiscasset.