The Limington Free Press
The People of Limington's On-Line Newspaper for News and Opinion
March 23, 2000     Volume 1 Number 3     Index

Ink Is Still Drying in Limington

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Ink Is Still Drying in Limington

   Often elected officials wrestle with ethical problems, searching for a happy medium between right and wrong.  Even the publisher of the Limington Free Press has come under attack lately from his own peers on the Planning Board for creating this non-profit online media based web page.  This is nothing new; however yet another Planning Board member has recently found herself being put into an unpleasant position of choosing between what is right for the town's people who voted her in office and the local special interests.

   Recently, well-respected and newly reelected to another three year term, Planning Board member Diane Hubbard choose to spearhead a bill which would open up the town's sign ordinance to free standing signs in the commercial district.  Feeling her business' sign was very attractive, tasteful and the correct size, she used it as a model for proposing a zoning ordinance change she had hoped the town's voters would welcome.  It would prove to be a uphill battle.  And it is a battle for any board member to change any ordinances, that is, since it was the Planning Board which made the infamous statement, "why would we want to change our zoning ordinances, the ink in the new code book isn't even dry yet; let's give them time to work."  This statement was repeated over and over by several board members including Hubbard during many past meetings and hearings.  It was in reference to a local citizen's movement to enact better safeguards against the negative impact of gravel extraction in the town.

   "The ink hasn't dried yet," statement by the Planning Board members in many of those locally televised hearings and meetings on the gravel pit issue definitely didn't fall on deaf ears by town's voter base, as the pro-sign ordinance change was soundly defeated by nearly a two to one margin at this past election just weeks ago.  This put to rest the controversial bill for at least one year since it is the selectmen's policy to not put bills back to the voters for at least 365 days.

   Apparently misreading the polls, one company choose not to wait for the votes to be counted and erected a concrete foundation with it's over ten foot tall steel posts prior to the election, readying it to hang it's business' attractive sign on after a win on election day.  Hence just days after the bill was utterly trounced by the voters, the sign went up even though the town's zoning clearly prohibits new free standing signs in the commercial district.

   This decision seems like it will put a well-respected member of the planning board to the test of choosing between abiding by the town's zoning law or succumbing to the local special interests.  The business' free-standing sign in question is that of one the town's largest contractors, D. R. Hubbard, of which planning board member Diane Hubbard is a part owner.  It's pretty apparent that someone else in the business must have given the go ahead on the decision of hanging the sign, being that veteran board member Hubbard is an expert on zoning in the town and she recently gave a highly charged positive speech on ethics, and was quoted saying, "I don't think that you should use an elected office as a soapbox for your own agenda".

   The Limington Free Press called to get a clear clarification on whether there was any communication between the town 's Code Enforcement Officer Freeman Abbott and the business in question concerning the sign or the ordinance.  On Wednesday, CEO Abbott exclusively told the Limington Free Press that he wasn't aware of the sign being up and he did not issue a permit for the sign because he wasn't allowed to issue free standing sign permits in the Commercial District.

contributed by staff reporter

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