Harrison eyes ordinance updates, town sign

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

HARRISON — Better controls need to be in place for use of the fire station’s community room, the Board of Selectmen agreed in a workshop last Thursday.

The board also agreed to move forward with a fireworks ordinance, update the existing dog control ordinance and decide, once and for all, on a policy for announcing non-municipal events on the town office reader board sign.

Community room

Town Manager George “Bud” Finch said users of the community room often leave the carpet soiled, and it takes $35 to have it cleaned. Yet the space rents for $25 per use, with a $25 cleaning deposit. “We spend more money cleaning it up than we collect in using it,” he said.

The carpet is in terrible shape, and has needed replacement for a long time. Selectman Matthew Frank suggested a more user-friendly linoleum be installed.

Finch suggested tightening up use guidelines. Currently, any community group can use the space after reserving a date on the calendar in the town office. At times, noise from activities going on upstairs is disruptive to fire department meetings going on downstairs.

Board secretary Mary Tremblay said the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has ordered the removal of the carpet for safety reasons.

Selectman Richard St. John noted that the room has been a real asset to the community, and suggested increasing the amount of the cleaning deposit as an incentive to keeping the carpet clean from spills and muddy feet.

Finch said he is working to create a standard format for all town ordinances, and as such is asking the board to consider updating some existing ordinances. Once the update process is completed, the ordinances can be put on a CD, he said.

Fireworks ordinance

Selectmen agreed with a recommendation by Finch to draft a fireworks ordinance in light of a new state law allowing their sale and use in the state. Finch said he disagreed with the law, which leaves towns in the position of adopting local controls.

“It’s a sad day when the state chose not to take responsibility and dump (fireworks usage) on the town,” he said. “This whole concept (in the last few years) that everything’s about jobs, jobs, jobs, has just worn me out.”

The board agreed to ask residents to serve on a committee that would draft a policy for voter consideration next June. Finch said to his knowledge, the city of Brewer is the only municipality that has to date supported the sale of fireworks.

St. John noted that holiday fireworks use by residents has in the past caused some hard-to-fight fires on Hawk and Bear Mountains. He agreed with Finch’s statement that “I’m not totally against fireworks, I just have a problem with stupidity.” Member Kathy LaPlante said the fire department should be enlisted for their input on a fireworks ordinance.

Dog ordinance

Finch said Harrison’s dog ordinance needs to be clarified in order not to penalize responsible owners with large properties “because of the 1% who don’t comply.” Enforcement rules need to be clarified for bringing dogs on to the RADR Recreation Complex fields for safety reasons. Recreation Director Paula Holt is looking into creating a master plan for the complex that would include hiking and cross-country trails, and it’s possible a fenced-in area could be created at the complex for a dog park. An updated ordinance would also clear up how Animal Control Officer Robert Larrabee would handle different situations involving nuisance dogs, and expand definitions to include companion animals other than dogs.

Town sign policy

The board also discussed whether the town sign should be used for announcements of blood drives and other community events, in addition to announcing upcoming municipal meetings. Members agreed to wait until absent Selectman Lisa Villa could attend a future board meeting in order to decide the matter, which currently has divided the board.

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