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Monticello voters approve $617,000 budget, vote down junkyard article

MONTICELLO, Maine — Residents of Monticello on Monday evening approved a nearly $617,000 budget for the upcoming year that increased slightly over last year.

Residents also failed to pass an article that would have amended a land use ordinance addressing automobile graveyards and the raising of livestock within certain zones of the community.

A crowd of approximately 24 residents attended the meeting and took more than an hour to review the 58 article warrant, which included passage of a $616,977 budget. Town Manager Ginger Pryor said that the budget had increased $5,300 over last year.

In elections on March 26, voters elected Joshua Harvey and Mark Sperrey to three-year terms on the Board of Selectmen. Jennifer Johnston was elected to a three-year seat on the SAD 29 school board.

During the town meeting Monday at the Monticello Fire Station, most of the articles elicited little to no comment.

Residents most heavily discussed the combined automobile graveyard and livestock ordinance, which Code Enforcement Officer Wade Hanson was on hand to explain.

Hanson said that according to state law, an individual is operating an automobile graveyard if he has three or more unregistered or uninspected vehicles in his yard. There are many caveats to the law, which allow for more accumulation of unregistered and uninspected farm equipment and also lets automobile hobbyists have more vehicles on their property. It also excludes an area used for temporary storage of vehicles or vehicle parts by a business that is doing vehicle repair work. Hanson said that the amendment to the local ordinance would have allowed an extra layer of local control for the town.

Donald Ardell, a Monticello resident, questioned the need for local action, especially since a state law was already in place. He felt that the amendment could cost the town unforeseen expenses if officials got tied up in a lengthy court case with a non-compliant homeowner. Pryor told the crowd that there are approximately five properties in the town that “we get regular complaints on.” Hanson said that the Maine State Police are currently responsible for enforcing the state ordinance, but such calls are much lower priority in light of the number of calls police receive.

The livestock section of the ordinance would have governed the allowable raising of livestock within the town’s residential business zone, which runs from the Station Road to the Dalbek Road and one thousand feet on either side. Under the amendment, livestock includes chickens, pigs, goats, horses, deer, emu, alpaca and other species. Hanson said that the number of livestock would have been limited by lot size. For example, residents would have needed to have one acre of property to meet the requirements, and could have had a combined total of six animal “units” for the first single acre. An example of one animal unit included two chickens, while a pig counted as three animal units.

Several residents expressed concerns about cleanliness.

Selectman Terry Wade expressed reservations about the idea. He noted that the amendment would have allowed an individual with an acre of land to have two pigs in the zone and he also was concerned about odors and cleanliness.

Residents debated the idea for 20 minutes and weighed potential additional amendments before voting 12-12 on the article, effectively killing the proposed ordinance changes for both junkyards and livestock.

Pryor said that there was big enough input about the issue that she believes selectmen will discuss it again at a future meeting.

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