2006 December 22
by Eileen Curry
In a plea for help in gaining entrance to negotiations between Quoddy Bay LNG and the chairman of the Perry Board of Selectmen, David Turner, Selectwoman Jeanne Guisinger, at the December 18 selectmen's meeting, officially notified Turner, "I object to be excluded from the discussions for a proposed agreement between the company and the town of Perry."
She proposed an initiative asking the citizens of Perry to petition the selectmen to call a special open town meeting to vote on an article that was read at the meeting. The article reads: "To see if the town will require the selectmen to conduct all future discussions and correspondence by them regarding issues of the potential citing of any liquefied natural gas facilities in Perry, including discussions and correspondence with the town's attorneys and with representatives from Quoddy Bay LNG, only after notice to and participation with full voting rights by a special negotiating committee to be made up of the following members of the Perry community: the board of selectmen; two members of the planning board (to be selected by the planning board); one member of the school committee (to be selected by the school committee); the Perry fire chief; one fisherman to be selected by Cobscook Bay Fishermen's Association; and three members of the Perry community at large (one to be picked by each selectman). The purpose of this article is to assure community involvement in determining the town's goals with respect to possible LNG development."
Guisinger read a three-page letter directed at Turner and her disapproval of "your position as negotiator for the town." Guisinger went on to say, "You have historically demonstrated through words and deeds consistent support for and favoritism toward the developer's objectives." She stated, "I insist that you hold off any discussions with Quoddy Bay until arrangements can be made either for at least the full board of selectmen to participate in them or for other members of our community who can provide an alternative evaluation of the terms to be considered."
Guisinger presented the petition at the meeting and said, "I ask all citizens to sign the petition and to ask your friends and neighbors to do the same. This is not about LNG. This is about bringing our town together to address the biggest, most far-reaching change is has faced since it was founded."
The initiative proposal announcement did not go without very vocal negative and affirmative response from the seven or eight people attending. Turner said, "Jeannie, you've jumped the gun here. You know we had a meeting on December 6 with Quoddy Bay and [town attorney Eric] Stumpfel, and we will be discussing the information in executive session after tonight's meeting. You will be fully informed as to what has been discussed and proposed."
Resident Gerry Morrison directed a comment to Guisinger saying, "This sounds like this whole thing has been orchestrated by you and others. Do you meet before meetings to discuss this stuff?" Guisinger adamantly denied any secret meetings and fired back, "We are not the ones having secret meetings; David has been meeting with developers and lawyers, when none of us knew about it, and I think that's a bigger issue."
"We knew about it," said Selectman Dick Adams, referring to a motion made at a previous meeting to allow Turner to meet with attorneys and the developer. Guisinger voted against the motion at the last meeting. Resident Brian Theriault said, "I think both sides should be represented at these discussions. I see nothing wrong with two people negotiating." Turner, after asking for order from others who were shouting out comments, said, "The whole process here is to bring back the information to vote on a project at town meeting."
The discussion continued concerning how selectmen will address the initiative, whether or not it would be presented at a town meeting or during a secret ballot vote at the polls. The initiative requires at least 10% of the November voter turnout, which would amount to 41 signatures, according to Guisinger.
Other issues discussed at the selectmen's meeting included an update on speed limit signs and weight restriction signs installed on town roads. Turner said a complaint was made from a resident of Shore Road saying that the speeds imposed were "too fast." Turner said all complaints should be made directly to the Maine Department of Transportation, as "they control the speed limit." Guisinger said an assessment of traffic and speed was pending for the scenic road that parallels Route 1.
The December 13 minutes of the Washington County Budget Advisory Committee meeting held in Machias were offered to the general public to review. The large packet included motions made by members to implement the 2007 budget. The amount to be raised from taxation to fund the budget as presented is $4,304,769. The amount falls within the limit of $4,632,042 as set by LD 1. The increase is $183,402 from last year. The packet is available at the town office by calling any one of the selectmen.
The Town of Perry tax maps, commitment book and valuation reports are now available at <www.perrymaine.org>. The website, created by town treasurer Barbara DeWitt, provides access to all of the town's information and contact numbers. It was also announced by Selectman Turner that the Crohn property on Otis Lane in Perry has been purchased by a private citizen and is back on the Perry tax rolls.
Selectmen voted to appoint Terry Johnson as plumbing inspector and Alan Sutherland as alternate. A request from the Perry Elementary School to receive funds from the town regarding school property taken by the MDOT will require a town vote during the March elections. The furnace needs to be replaced at the municipal building. The town road plan will be implemented as an 11-year plan if voters approve it during town meeting in March. Updates were given on the possibility of a shared administrative assistant for surrounding towns and the progress of a comprehensive plan grant in conjunction with the Town of Pembroke. Both subjects will be discussed further at the next Perry selectmen's meeting on Monday, January 8, at the town office building.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.