July 18, 2019

Cutler voters nix funding for airport, waste studies

CUTLER — The Cutler annual town meeting Monday was filled with talk of automobile junkyards and dogs at large, sewage and the stuff of which it’s made; solid-waste control and opposition “to any further loss of local control.”

Until late in the meeting, there was a hint of possible eminent domain proceedings.

A large turnout filled the new Bay Ridge School gymnasium. Most of the 40 articles contained in the warrant passed.

Among those that failed to pass was a $632 request to help fund expansion and regionalization studies for Machias Valley Regional Airport, and a $1,000 request from Calais City Manager Nancy Orr for a countywide solid-waste study.

Robert Kord called the airport and waste study requests “two new charities.” Residents voted to strike the airport question from their warrant. Other groups, including the Clean Water Coalition, which asked for $500, had their requests approved.

The issue of solid waste sparked a lively discussion on the problems facing the county and the state. “Solid waste won’t go away,” one resident pointed out. He called for participation in the countywide study to alternate solutions to solid-waste disposal.

“I won’t be broken-hearted about the airport,” Kord noted, “but the state has some responsibility” in finding a solution to the solid-waste disposal dilemma.

Confusion followed when the waste-study article, requesting $1,000, was killed, then resurrected for reconsideration at a reduced level, “to show we’re interested.”

The argument was made that by approving funds, Cutler would carry more weight in regional-level discussions. “If we’re able to go anyway,” one resident stated, “why should we pay?”

“I want the decision to stand,” Bo Thott told the crowd. He also questioned weather “Augusta will listen to us anyway,” when the study’s report is complete.

A potential bomb was defused late in the meeting when Clam Committee Chairman Mark McGuire announced that Carroll Ackley granted permission last week for continued access across his land to clam flats on Holmes Bay.

Ackley had closed a road leading to the flats by putting a gate across the access the road. Dan Molinski, Ackley’s grandson, said a right of way had never existed in 200 years of ownership by either Ackley or his ancestors.

“Right of way is the wrong term,” said Molinski, adding that Ackley always had given permission to use the road when asked.

Article 36 asked voters to authorize selectmen to proceed with eminent domain proceedings to secure access across Ackley’s land to the clam flats. Voters approved a motion made by McGuire to remove the article from consideration, after it was announced that access would be allowed.

Voters also agreed to have the clam committee study the feasibility of restoring and extending the Davis Farm Road to provide clam harvesters alternate access to clam beds in Holmes Bay.

An article sponsored by Kord, “to oppose any further loss of local control,” passed easily. The measure, Kord said, was aimed at “sending a message” to lawmakers and conservation groups.

As a member of the Washington County Alliance, Kord has been a central figure in his town’s effort to turn away state and federal attempts to acquire large tracts of coastal property between Cutler and Lubec.

Kord also spoke out earlier in the meeting against an article asking the town to set aside $200 for an outdoor Christmas decorating contest. “I’m a Christian,” Kord said, “but I believe this is against the constitution.”

The use of tax money for religious observances was “wrong,” and not allowed by federal law, Kord said. Voters agreed by removing the article from further consideration.

An ordinance that would have banned the “accumulation of more than two unregisterable vehicles for more than 90 days” in any dooryard also was defeated.

“This is your land,” one angered resident pointed out. “Where do we draw the line?

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