Police & Fire

Residents to vote on sign permit timeline

GREENVILLE — Sign permits issued by the town of Greenville do not have an expiration date, potentially giving applications years to construct the sign even if some new provisions are enacted after the permit is approved.

After a situation involving a permit issued a half decade ago came up recently, the Greenville Planning Board is proposing a 1-year limit for sign projects to be carried out. The select board approved the recommendation during its March 1 meeting, and the amendment to the larger land use ordinance will now go to a vote at the annual town meeting in June.

Planning Board Chairperson John Contreni brought the sign ordinance addition to the select board. Without mentioning it by name, he said the Holy Family Catholic Church on Pritham Avenue erected a new digital sign in good faith, but it is not in compliance with the current ordinance. 

The sign is located in a part of town where such displays are now prohibited, and is considerably larger than the agreed upon size, 

The church had a permit issued in 2017, “but they had not gotten around to building their sign until just recently,” Contreni said. “In some ways their new sign is nonconforming to the 2023 sign ordinance.”

Holy Family Catholic Church and the town have worked out the differences and are moving forward, but Contreni said the community should be proactive and have a timeframe clause similar to that of building permits.

“We want to avoid that going forward so that is why the planning board is recommending this amendment to the land use ordinance,” he said. The permit would be valid for one year from the date it is issued, after which the sign would need to be applied for again and comply with all current regulations.

“If they came to us in 2023, they would have to abide by the 2023 sign permits. This would close that loophole,” Contreni said.

In other business, Police Chief Jim Carr gave an update on the department’s new body and cruiser cameras with a vehicle model to pass around to the select board.

“It’s been a huge learning curve on it and it’s going to continue to be a learning curve,” he said.

He said the cameras will come on automatically once the cruiser emergency lights have been switched on and then the officer steps out of the vehicle. While the officers are still dealing with slow download speeds to get video off the camera, Carr said the footage has not yet needed to be used in court, although  the department has practiced this with the district attorney’s office.

“One of the reasons we felt very strongly about bringing this technology on board was obviously safety for our police department, but not only that, but also for the folks involved in cases,” Select Chairperson Geno Murray said. “We want to make sure they’re protected.”

Murray said he presumes insurance will soon require the cameras and this may also be a state law some day.

“It was good we were able to capitalize on the ARPA funds so it didn’t cost the taxpayers anything,” Town Manager Mike Roy said.

About $62,000 for four body cameras and dash cams for each cruiser were purchased with ARPA funds.

In his report Roy said, “The fire building is looking like next month to come down, so early to mid-April. The dumpster was moved in today to clean out all the unwanted and old, old items from the fire station.”

He said Fire Chief Sawyer Murray has begun labeling items to go in the dumpster, and once the building has been torn down, Murray will work out of the police station across the street.

The fire station will be replaced by a public safety building to house the fire and police departments to help with current outdated spaces and building code violations. It will be built at the site of the fire station on Minden Street across from the town office.

Earlier this year the project received a $902,000 boost as part of federal appropriations bills.

Residents approved up to $5,150,000 in bonds at the annual town meeting in June to finance surveys, demolition, construction and related expenditures for the structure. The bond is expected to be issued in May, with plans to repay it over the course of 15 years, according to the warrant article.

Roy said rather than rent a pair of metal storage containers, the town plans to purchase two of them. A 40-foot container would be for the fire department during the building construction and another 20-foot container for the police and town office.

“Those will be high and dry and safe and secured, and afterward the fire department can use those for training facilities,” Roy said. He said now the fire department travels to Milo or Waterville for smoke training. With its own units, Greenville could host other fire departments for training sessions.

The town manager said the Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency donated two AED units to Greenville. “Which was a surprise to all of us, including our fire chief,” he said.

One AED will be for the fire department and the other will be installed at the town office. 

Destination Moosehead Lake Executive Director Allison Arbo gave an update on the organization’s recent Chocolate Festival.

“We had around 4,000 pieces of chocolate. We sold out in an hour and a half,” Arbo said. “We had people at the door at 11:15 (a.m.) and we opened the door at 12 and we raised $7,138. That includes our auction and chocolate sales.”

She said 400 attendees bought boxes of chocolate, but the number of people passing through the door was higher. Arbo thanked the town and Greenville Consolidated School for use of the building’s cafeteria.

The 20th year of the Chocolate Festival will be next year. “We are going to do some bigger things and we also need to find more people to bake,” Arbo said.

Last month’s event was the first in-person Chocolate Festival since 2020. It marked the return of the silent and raffle auctions, and attendees were to pick out their choice of chocolates vs. the boxes handed out at the previous two years’ drive-thru festivals.

The Chocolate Festival is Destination Moosehead Lake’s biggest fundraising event.

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