Garland residents will vote on east-west highway moratorium at July 10 meeting

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    GARLAND — Residents of Garland will meet at the town’s Grange Hall at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 10 for a three-article special town meeting, including two related to the east-west highway proposed by Cianbro Corporation.

    According to Edward Hummel of the Concerned Citizens of Garland, an article asking for a moratorium on all private transportation, utility and energy projects was originally planned for the annual town meeting warrant in March. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time between the date we submitted the petitions and the meeting to give proper notice,” Hummel said.
    So the Garland Board of Selectmen contacted Monson town officials to see how their moratorium article was worded, according to Hummel. “So our article will be very similar. Dexter and Sangerville have also passed a moratorium (on the highway), so I have a sense that we will, too,” Hummel said.
    In addition to the moratorium question, there will be a straw vote on whether Garland residents approve or disprove of the east-west highway itself. The 220-mile, limited access road from Calais to Coburn Gore would pass through portions of Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, but Cianbro Corporation officials have said that a final route hasn’t been determined.
    When Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue gave a presentation about the east-west highway at a Penobscot County Commissioners’ meeting in April, Garland residents Terry Crouch and Jim Thomas spoke in opposition to the plan.
    According to one published report, Crouch presented Vigue with a copy of a petition signed by 172 Garland residents and 55 others opposing the highway. “Peter Vigue then said that if the town didn’t want the highway, it wouldn’t go through here,” Hummel said.
    Thomas, a dairy farmer with 465 milking cows, stated that one of the proposed routes could take 30 acres of his fields and severely restrict access to another 70 acres.
    This concept also concerns Hummel. “The same area where the corridor is slated to go through in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties is also a prime agricultural area,” Hummel said. “We cannot afford to lose any more farmland.”
    Garland First Selectman George Corey predicted that the moratorium would pass and the straw vote would show that residents are opposed to the east-west highway. “If the straw vote goes the way I think it will, I hope to take the results directly to Mr. (Peter) Vigue. He is already on record saying that if the people of Garland don’t want the highway, it wouldn’t go through our community. So we’ll see if he’s a man of his word,” Corey said.
    The third article on the warrant will deal with any last-minute adjustments to the town’s budget, based on decreased revenue sharing. While the budget was passed at the March annual town meeting, final figures on revenue sharing weren’t available until after the Maine Legislature adjourned last week.
    According to the Maine State Treasurer’s database, Garland is slated to get $46,959 in revenue sharing this fiscal year, down from the original estimate of $51,739.

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