Fryeburg voters reject sign ordinance

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — Voters at a special town meeting here last week narrowly approved enacting a mass gathering ordinance, rejected a mobile vending ordinance and defeated proposed amendments to the sign ordinance.

The mass gathering ordinance passed with an 11-vote margin, or by a vote of 29 in favor and 18 opposed. The mobile vending ordinance was defeated by a vote of 17 in favor and 21 against. The sign ordinance amendments were shot down by a loud voice vote — No!

Meanwhile, another article asking voters to authorize the board of selectmen to set the commercial rate for solid waste disposal at the transfer station was approved, with about a half dozen voters opposed. Also, the last article which asked voters to do away with the $1 pay per bag system to dispose of municipal solid waste after selling the remainder of the bags in stock, also passed muster with voters, in a voice vote.

Chief of Police Philip Weymouth announced that, even though the proposed mass gathering ordinance had been being researched for two years, with the original one being enacted in 1996, it was imperative to have something in place by the time the Lions’ Club Western Maine Barbecue comes to town for three days in July, as it is expected to draw as many as 15,000 people here. He said the mass gathering ordinance allows the town to be forewarned of and plan for large gatherings being held in town that require extra police, fire and rescue coverage.

As to the Lions’ Club sponsored event in July, Chief Weymouth said, “I think it’s great that it’s coming, but it shouldn’t be put on the taxpayers’ backs.”

Code Enforcement Officer Katie Haley said that public hearings held on the proposed ordinance amendments were “not well attended,” saying the planning board is expected to discuss what to do next — if anything — about the ordinance amendments that failed — when they next meet on March 22.

Resident Kevin Fellows took exception to the fact that activities sponsored by the Fryeburg Fair are exempt, under the mass gathering ordinance. It was pointed out, however, that certain non-agricultural events held at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds such as the Good Sam Club gatherings and the annual Home and Garden Show. will be required to apply for a mass gathering permit — events with 500 or more people must be approved by the town manager and events of 1,000 people or more must be authorized by the board of selectmen.

“It (the mass gathering ordinance) should apply to all parties,” Fellows said. “I don’t think anyone should be exempt.”

Chief Weymouth explained that agricultural events are permitted by the state, not the town of Fryeburg.

It was also stated that the West Oxford Agricultural Society, parent organization of the Fryeburg Fair, this year gave the town just under $100,000 in lieu of taxes, which it is not required to do as a non-profit organization.

Please follow and like us: