Mr. Richard Jarrett
280 Tucker Road
Limington, ME 04049
September 20, 2000
Selectmen of the Town of Limington:
Barry H. Gammon
Herbert M. Ramsdell
Kathleen A. Maddocks
PO Box 240
Limington, ME 04049
As you know, there have been two petitions submitted by the citizens of Limington requesting that two amendments to the Limington Zoning Ordinance be placed on the ballot. The "Protection of Residential Properties from Mineral Extraction Industry Amendments to the Limington Zoning Ordinance" petition was submitted to the Town Clerk on June 29, 2000 and contained a sufficient number of validated signatures. The signers of this petition specifically requested the that the question be placed on the November ballot, a ballot that was over four months away at the time of signing. The "Personal Wireless Service Facilities and Towers Ordinance" was submitted on August 10, 2000 and it also had the sufficient number of signatures. The Planning Board has held public hearings on both amendments and has made their recommendation for the benefit of the voters and municipal officers, as required by the Limington Zoning Ordinance.
After an informal discussion with Ms. Maddocks last night, I was left with the impression that the selectpersons do not want to place these questions on the November ballot. Since the deadline specified under MRSA Title 30A §2528 for the November ballot is the end of this week, I urge you to act promptly to place these questions on that ballot. The November ballot will give the greatest number of voters the opportunity to express their desires.
The Limington Zoning Ordinance (Article XI) defines specific requirements for the procedure for citizen initiated petitions. These requirements have been met. The signers of the petitions as well as all citizens of Limington who abide by the Zoning Ordinance will be understandably upset if the Town itself does not follow the law. The State law mentioned above also directs that the questions shall be placed on the next ballot printed or at a special town meeting called for its consideration.
Delaying the vote will have many undesirable consequences:
Firstly, as mentioned above, the November ballot will have the greatest citizen participation since this is also a presidential election. Postponing the vote will allow fewer voters the opportunity to determine the outcome of these important questions, questions that can only be answered by the Legislative Body of the Town of Limington.
Secondly, both proposed amendments have a retroactivity clause. Such retroactivity clauses have been upheld by the Law Court (Maine Supreme Court). In fact, the selectpersons themselves included a similar provision two years ago for the gravel amendment proposed by the Planning Board which was defeated by only a slim ten vote margin. The longer the vote is delayed, the longer the town will prolong the limbo of any applicants who wish to mine gravel or build cell towers in the town.
Finally, intentionally or needlessly delaying the vote beyond November could have negative legal implications for the Town. Both the citizens and applicants have a legal expectation and right to have these questions be decided in a timely fashion. Since on one of the petitions, the petitioners explicitly requested that the question be placed on the November ballot, any applicant who is delayed beyond November could conceivably have a legal recourse against the Town when these amendments are eventually enacted by the voters.
In conclusion, the citizens of Limington have a legal right and expectation that these two petitions be placed on the ballot. Furthermore, the Municipal Officers of Limington have a legal obligation to follow the Limington Zoning Ordinance by placing these questions on the ballot. The Legislative Body of Limington will then make the decision on voting day whether they think that these amendments are in their best interests and the best interests of the Town.
- Limington Planning Board
Jim Haddow, Petruccelli & Martin, LLP
50 Monument Square, PO Box 9733, Portland, ME 04101
(via mail and fax 775-2360)
View selectmen's letter of response September 27, 2000
Please note that www.Limington.org is not the official website of the Government of the Town of Limington.