Electronic sign amendment will be on D-F warrant

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — An amendment to the Dover-Foxcroft Land Use Ordinance will be included on the warrant for the town meeting — scheduled for Saturday, April 27 at 9 a.m. in the gymnasium at the Morton Avenue Municipal Building —  after the selectmen voted to include a drafted article on the signed 8-article document during an April 8 meeting.

    Town Manager Jack Clukey said that proposed amendment concerns static electronic signs, those that do not change the display during the course of a single day or change just one time during the day. These are excluded from the definition of electronic message board and fall under the category of illuminated signs which can be permitted under existing circumstances, such as in several zone locations in town.
    “We had a business and Foxcroft Academy two months ago both make the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board aware of their interest to put up LED signs,” Clukey said, saying that the issue with each case stemmed from zoning issues. He said both the Promotion and Development Committee and the Planning Board, on several occasions, met to look at the broader issues concerning LED signs,
    “They came away with the idea that perhaps the best way to deal with LED signs is a comprehensive work group,” Clukey said which would include town officials, members of the business community, citizens and others who would all work on more comprehensive guidelines which could be readied for the November municipal election.
    He said the discussion also examined not just LED signs, but non-static signs. Clukey said the amendment on the April 27 warrant is not comprehensive enough to cover all the possible non-static signs and “would be a temporary solution, potentially in June, July, August, September and October.”
     “The only places you can get a permit right now is the downtown and the commercial zones,” Clukey said. “You can’t have an LED sign in the village, but this would say you could have a static sign in the village.”
    “(Code Enforcement Officer Connie Sands) has regulations on illuminated signs,” Select Chair Elwood Edgerly said. He said the process for sign permitting includes a review by the Planning Board to ensure the structures are in compliance.
    “Somehow I think it needs to be real clear to the voter,” Board member Gail D’Agostino said about the boundaries for the various zones in town where electronic and illuminated signs are and are not permitted.  She suggested including landmarks as one way to clearly separate one zone from another. Fellow board member Jane Conroy asked that the amendment be posted on the town website and be available at the town office prior to the April 27 meeting.
    In other business, the board voted to award a bid for restoration and planting at the former Maine Leathers site to Blue Water Tree & Lawn of Charleston pending the approval of Ransom Consulting. The bid by Blue Water Tree & Lawn was for $9,800, much less than the sum of $26,432 submitted by a company based in Freeport.
    “Ransom Consulting is looking at the bids to make sure everything is included we asked for,” Clukey said, as the firm will make a final recommendation upon completion. He said the trees and other plants will be delivered near the end of the month with a timeframe of “seven days to get the bare roots in the ground and another seven days to get everything else in the ground.” Clukey added volunteers would likely be needed for tasks related to the unloading, staging and inventory.
    “The Public Works Committee talked with (Town Forester Kirby Ellis) a few weeks ago and basically we have woodlots at two locations ready for harvest,” Clukey said. Requests for proposals are being sought for timber harvesting at both the airport and at the town gravel pit. The harvest locations are comprised of about 35 and 60 acres respectively.
    “The airport harvest would be a good candidate for this summer or winter,” he said. Clukey said the gravel pit “is accessible at a time when most properties are not accessible,” and this harvesting could be performed next March or April.
    The selectmen also appointed D’Agostino to serve as their representative on the Pine Crest Board of Directors. Jim Annis had filled the seat to help oversee the business park, but had to vacate when he was elected to the Piscataquis County Commissioners.
    Clukey provided several updates in his town manager’s report, including saying that the town has advertised for qualifications for a coordinator or coordinating agency for the Healthy Maine Streets grant. The program is part of the downtown revitalization efforts through membership in the Maine Downtown Network, and “we can utilize that program to encourage downtown businesses to encourage employee wellness program. Hopefully we can get that program off the ground in the next couple of weeks.”
    “A couple of events on our calendar are coming up, one really soon,” Clukey said. “Mark your calendar and visit the festival at the municipal airport,” he said about the Piscataquis Heritage Hot Air Balloon Festival on May 31-June 2. The event will feature 10 balloons, with flights in the morning and afternoon on that Friday and Saturday and on Sunday morning. Clukey said tickets for balloon rides are available online, and a shuttle bus will be transporting attendees up Pine Street to the airport. Parking will not be permitted up and down Pine Street.
    Clukey said planning continues on the Bike Maine event Sept. 8-9 in which the 500-mile ride will have an overnight stop in Dover-Foxcroft. “Their campsite is going to be Kiwanis Park,” he said, as officials from Bike Maine will be in town next month to make more detailed plans.
    “The Recreation Committee talked about having more defibrillators,” Clukey said, and Mayo Regional Hospital donated a pair of the devices to the town. One has been mounted in the municipal building gym, where it is easily accessible for the adjacent ball field, and the committee has talked about placing the other at the ball field up at the fairgrounds.
    The second selectmen’s meeting of the month usually falls on the fourth Monday evening, but in May the meeting will be on Wednesday, May 29 to avoid a conflict with Memorial Day. RSU 68 is looking to have its district budget meeting the evening before the selectmen meet on Tuesday, May 28.

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