Sangerville accepts USDA tree canopy grant

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    SANGERVILLE — Town officials initially had grave reservations about accepting a U.S. Department of Agriculture tree canopy grant, but ultimately decided to accept the $9,925 award to replant the recently harvested Bean Hill Woodlot. The selectmen voted 2-1 on Jan. 24 to accept the grant after Dr. Ken Woodbury of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council explained the grant’s provisions weren’t nearly as restrictive as previously thought.

    The selectmen and several members of the Sangerville Community Forest Committee believed the town would be unable to abide by the provisions of planting 1,500 trees which included a mix of fruit, nut and harvest trees. But Woodbury persuaded them as the grant’s administrator the town would have maximum flexibility in using the grant.

    “It’s a win-win situation for the town,” said Woodbury who is the community development director for the PCEDC. “It’s a win if you keep it and it’s a win if you decided to sell the woodlots because the grant will help you increase its value.”

    Woodbury assured town officials that as the grant administrator it was he who would determine if Sangerville was complying with the in-kind contributions mandated by the federal government. He indicated that the town didn’t need to use the entire $9,925 in 2013 or plant a large segment of fruit trees. Selectperson Melissa Randall believed that the town wouldn’t be able to maintain the 90 percent survivability rate stipulated in the grant because wildlife would eat the fruit trees.

    But Woodbury indicated that the town would be able to select the various species to plant in the woodlot. Despite Woodbury’s assurances, Selectman Irving McNaughton voted against accepting the grant. He believed the wording in the grant would require the town to spend money and devote resources it didn’t have.

    “I don’t like the grant. I’ve read the grant’s proposal several times and there’s too many things attached,” McNaughton said. “We have to front the money and I don’t like the conditions. It’s going to lead to problems other towns have experienced in accepting federal money.”

    In other action, the selectmen unanimously agreed to reject a bid received to purchase the tax acquired property on 15 Mill Street. The town had sent three properties out to bid, but only HSBC Bank made a bid. The bank attempted to reclaim the property it previously owned. The bank bid $2,134.08 which would cover the back taxes, lien costs and interest. The board believed the bid was too low compared to what the property was worth.

    “We had some interest in it (15 Mill Street) with people who came in today to take out a bid package, but we still only received the one bid,” said Town Manager Dave Pearson.

    The selectmen plan to place all three properties back out to bid in the spring.

    The board also received a petition from a citizen’s group led by Edie Vose to place an article on the town warrant. The group wants the town to vote on a moratorium against privately-owned highway projects with a power and communications corridor. Sangerville doesn’t have any land use ordinances in place or a comprehensive plan to restrict such projects. The group is concerned about possible ramifications the East-West Highway would have on the community.

    The group is concerned about Cianbro executive Peter Vigue’s plan to construct an East-Highway which would go through Sangerville. Vose indicated the group has concerns about pollution and environmental contamination the project may bring into the town.

    The selectmen accepted the 120-signature petition. The selectmen want the town’s attorney to review the petition’s  language before placing it on the town meeting warrant.

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