Naples to hold special town meeting

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES – Going forward with a town project to get fire-suppression pipes placed underground during construction deadlines will require the okay of voters at Naples special town meeting.

In order for Tax Increment Finance (TIF) money to be used to pay upfront for putting in pipes while the ditches are open along sections of Route 302 and Lake House Road, residents must decide if they want to use those TIF funds for this particular project, according to Naples Town Manager Derik Goodine.

The special town meeting will be held Monday, April 18, at 7 p.m. at the Naples Town Office’s meeting room.

The amount of TIF money being requested is $80,000.

That $80,000 will cover the expense of getting 1,000 feet of water pipes in the ground sooner than was expected, Goodine said. Using TIF funds now would allow the town to complete one-third of the already approved fire suppression project months earlier than the original timeline, he said.

If the town waits, Naples will be responsible for a temporary paving fee of $10,000 because earthwork crews need to fill in and repave the ditches by May to prevent erosion from rain.

Residents of Naples will be looking at four articles on the warrant during a special town meeting. They include:

Allocating TIF funds for completing one-third of fire suppression project

Unexpected ditch work presented an opportunity for the town to lay pipes in the open ground, according to Naples Selectman Rick Paraschak.

“A problem arose when the contractor tore up the areas around the (Naples Public) library, and the crews want to get it covered,” he said. “The contractor said if we didn’t have the money now, they couldn’t do it later.”

“They can’t stop traffic in the middle of summer,” Paraschak said. He added April and May are two of the months when Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) crews working on the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway can utilize one-lane closures.

The town doesn’t have any money budgeted for the waterline installation because the project wasn’t slated until autumn 2012, he said.

Now, the construction clock is ticking.

If the town doesn’t have the funding before MDOT fills in the ditches, the project will cost the town more in the future, Paraschak said, citing temporary-paving fees and higher expenses to re-open the ground for Naples’ fire suppression project.

A few months ago, Naples applied for a grant to assist with portions of the infrastructure project.

Now, the town is on the list to receive $80,000 in grant money through the Cumberland County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

However, that money won’t become available until the CDBG’s are distributed. Then, residents must vote to accept that grant money at the annual town meeting in June.

At Monday’s special town meeting, voters will decide whether or not to use existing TIF funds to piggy back on construction crews’ time sensitive work, and potentially save money by.

Allocating $10,000 in legal fees to 2010-11 budget

With no money left in the town’s legal services account, residents will need to approve adding $10,000 to that line item before the current fiscal year is up.

This article appears “just because we have spent all our legal fees for the year to date,” Goodine said during a phone interview on Tuesday.

For the 2010-11 budget, these articles included on the warrant:

The legal services account started with a balance of $25,000.

In addition to anticipated annual expenses for legal services, the Town of Naples spent approximately $25,000 as it sought fines and eco-system restoration after a Shoreland Ordinance Violation on Long Lake. The incident happened in March 2010.

In December 2010, mediation by a former judge was used to resolve the legal matter.

The mediator ordered John Chase, the party involved in the clear-cut case, to pay Naples’ legal fees.

Goodine said even though the town will recoup its money through payment of the fine, it still won’t be enough to cover this fiscal year’s legal needs.

“We are going to need a few more thousand dollars to get us through to the end of the fiscal year,” he said. “I don’t have room in the budget to cut it elsewhere.”

Voters will be asked to allocate $10,000 to pay legal bills through June 30, 2011.

“Hopefully, we won’t have to spend that much,” Goodine said.

PACE Ordinance

Residents in many communities around Maine will be required to use their voting power to allow the agency, Efficiency Maine, to assist homeowners with low-interest loans and federal rebate opportunities.

“The PACE ordinance turns over administrating the program to Efficiency Maine,” said Goodine. “It’s a low-interest loan program, but it not just for low-income households.”

He added, “Even moderate-income families would be eligible to apply for low-interest loans to do household projects like putting in a more efficient water heater, switching to more efficient heating system, or replacing windows with something more energy efficient.”

Homeowners would pay for an energy audit upfront, but the cost of the audit would be deducted from improvements with energy-saving and cost-saving results.

Efficiency Maine employee Dana Fischer, who was hired by the agency to help get PACE off the ground said recently, “PACE loans type of legislation passed in two dozen states last year. They were designed to implement things that would help residents” with saving money on making homes more energy efficient.

“We ask towns to commit themselves to some sort of weatherization education for residents. It could be brochures or information on public television,” he said.

“You can’t impose this on a community,” Fischer said, adding it would cost the town nothing to implement the PACE program.

Business zoning change to go before the public

Another item on the warrant is the request for a zone change on the business property located off Route 302, approximately 1 ½ miles west of the Causeway.

Family plans have been in the making for a long-time Naples restaurant to close, and re-open its doors offering a different type of service.

The Sunny Window Café will no longer be operating, because owner Deborah Kilton will lease the building to her son, Scott Kilton, who plans to manage a bicycle shop.

So, a zone change is in order.

The Kiltons appeared last month before the Naples Planning Board; and, the next step was to put the proposed zoning change before residents.

“The people have to approve the zoning change itself before it can be finalized,” Goodine said.

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