Police & Fire

D-F officials continue work on addressing dangerous buildings

DOVER-FOXCROFT – Last fall the Dover-Foxcroft Select Board began the process to rectify a pair of deteriorating properties at 70 Union Street and 130 Pleasant Street. After public hearings on both, the Union Street home was formally declared a dangerous building while the town awaited potential cleanup at the Pleasant Street home.

During a Monday, May 13 meeting, Code Enforcement Officer Brian Gaudet said the son of the late 70 Union Street property owner was supposed to gain ownership through probate court but this has still not yet happened. “The house is getting worse,” he said. “I would like to see it gone by late fall before winter.”

Gaudet recommended having Town Attorney Jon Pottle look into the matter to see what could be done.

Pottle said having the son be in full ownership would make the process to demolish the structure much easier. “Other than that there is no way of knowing who has ownership in that,” Pottle said.

The attorney suggested the town place an advertisement asking interested parties to come forward to help get ownership resolved. The select board passed a motion on this.

“He probably has great intentions, but it’s not getting done,” Gaudet said, saying he does not like to have to use legal measures but otherwise properties are not getting remedied.

Gaudet said the contractor who was supposed to demo the 130 Pleasant Street home was told not to do this. The code enforcement officer said he did not know any more, and asked Pottle if he could look into the matter.

Last July the select board approved a dangerous building order for a strucutre at 11 Grange Street after determining it is in disrepair and cannot be rehabilitated due to a variety of issues.

Town Manager Jack Clukey said some property work is being done before demolition, utilizing the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council brownfields program to determine any and how much hazardous substances may be inside. He said this information, such as on asbestos, would be available for contractors to have when they bid on demolition.

The bank-owned property is for sale, and a portion of transaction proceeds would cover the demolition.

In other business, the board approved a public comment policy developed on guidance from the Maine Municipal Association and recommendations from the administrative committee.

Clukey said it was suggested that some clear guidelines be in place, concise enough to be a single page that can be available at meetings. “Really it follows our current policy closely but has some specifications,” he said.

“The biggest change I see is an establishment of the time limits, which we haven’t had before,” Chair Tom Lizotte said.

The policy has a timeframe of up to three minutes per speaker and the total time during open session is up to 20 minutes or until everyone who wishes to speak has spoken once but the chair has the ability to modify or extend time limits if needed.

Lizotte mentioned a public hearing on the June 11 election ballot would be taking place one week later, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 27.

On Tuesday, June 11 Dover-Foxcroft residents will head to the polls to vote on the municipal budget, a question pertaining to the future of the Mayo Mill Dam, several items on land use ordinance amendments, and the RSU 68 budget (which will also be voted on that day by the fellow district communities of Charleston, Monson, and Sebec). 

A proposed municipal budget totaling $8,302,205 for the 2024-25 fiscal year was approved at the annual town meeting. There is also $845,370 proposed for wastewater operations and capital but this would be equaled by the same amount of wastewater revenues and offsets.

The $8.3 million-plus figure will be offset by $4,728,035 in nontax revenues for a net amount of $3,574,170 to be raised through property taxes.

The total appropriation is up by $1,442,430 (21.03 percent) from the current fiscal year’s near $6.86 million figure. Revenues are $852,608 more than the current fiscal year or up 22 percent. The $3,574,170 to be raised is an increase of $589,822 (19.76 percent) from 2023-24.

The ballot will include a question concerning the recommendation from the Mayo Mill Dam steering committee that removing the downtown Piscataquis River dam and connecting facilities and building a riverfront park is in the town’s best interests moving forward.

Reducing flooding dangers, improving the area’s ecology, including fish passage, and the availability of funding for dam removal were among the main reasons for the committee’s conclusion. The board voted in February to place a question on the June ballot pertaining to the project concerning the acceptance of grant funds as a way to gauge if residents favor the plan or not.

A 4-page, approximately 1,600-word resolution explaining in detail the issues of the dam, with historical context of the recent process and reiterating the Feb. 26 vote was approved by the select board on March 25. The June referendum question, explaining what yes and no votes mean, was also approved at the meeting following an executive session. 

The June 11 ballot has five questions on land use ordinance amendments, pertaining to a state housing density bill, subdivisions, self-storage facilities, changeable electronic copy signs, and wind energy systems.

The full text of each proposed ordinance amendment will be available at next week’s hearing.

To avoid a Memorial Day conflict, the select board will not be meeting on Monday, May 27. To also avoid a conflict with the RSU 68 district budget meeting on Tuesday, May 28, the board’s second May meeting will instead be at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29.

In his report Clukey said, “We have been working with FEMA in terms of costs we had with the December flood.”

He said the town will have the opportunity to seek funding for reimbursement of costs from the weather event as well for mitigation work to help prevent future flooding and roads washing out. These could include larger, more flood-resistant culverts.

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