Bridgton finalizes referendum, election warrant

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

It’s official — Ken Murphy is the only official candidate for the one open seat on the Bridgton Board of Selectmen. And Fred Packard, who originally wasn’t going to run again for the Planning Board, has changed his mind.

On Monday, the day after the deadline for returning nomination papers for the Tuesday, June 11 local election had passed, Murphy wasn’t counting his chickens as a shoo-in selectmen just yet. Town elections are still over a month away, and the possibility exists that a write-in campaign could arise, as it has occasionally over the years.

The three-year open selectman’s seat is being vacated by veteran Selectman Woody Woodward, who has decided not to run again. “Twelve years is enough,” Woodward said earlier. “It’s time to switch up and let someone else have a turn.”

Packard’s name will appear on the ballot along with fellow incumbent Steve Collins, the current chairman, for the two open three-year seats on the Planning Board. No one returned papers for the Planning Board Alternate position, currently held by Roxy Hagerman.

Incumbents Karen Eller and Karla Swanson-Murphy are running again for Bridgton’s two seats on the SAD 61 Board of Directors, and Bridgton Water District incumbent Trustee Wesley Gorman has also returned papers to serve another term.

Referendum questions

The June 11 elections include three referendum questions recently finalized by Selectmen. All three have elements of controversy surrounding them.

The first asks voters if they want to adopt a local Fireworks Ordinance that would impose slightly tighter restrictions on the state law, passed in January of 2012, which made it legal for Mainers to use consumer fireworks.

The second is a non-binding question seeking voter feedback on whether selectmen should seek offers to buy the non-beach portion of the Salmon Point Campground property the town owns on Long Lake. A minimum offer of $2 million would be needed, and the development proposal would need to generate at least $75,000 in new tax revenue a year. The sale proceeds would be transferred to the Moose Pond Land Trust Fund.

The third referendum question asks voters if the town should formally oppose any possible future transport of tar sands oil through Maine via the Portland Pipeline, which runs through several of Bridgton’s neighboring towns.

Full wording of each of the questions is posted on the town’s website under the 2013 Town Meeting Schedule link on the home page.

Selectmen debated placing a second question on the ballot about fireworks, to see if residents wanted to ban their use outright. But the board ultimately decided any vote on a fireworks ban needed to await the outcome of a vote on the ordinance prepared by the Fireworks Committee, which spent several months working on the language.

Selectmen also debated whether the question on selling the campground land should be binding or non-binding. They opted for the latter, agreeing that they needed to know whether residents would even consider a sale before taking the next step.

As for the question banning the transport of tar sands oil, the board initially debated whether the town of Bridgton needed to take an official position on a scenario that may or may not ever happen. But in the end they agreed the interests of several concerned residents was sufficient to seek a town-wide vote on the issue. Several neighboring towns, including Waterford and Casco, have approved similar questions, and Harrison will seek voter opinion on the tar sands oil at their own Town Meeting this June.

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