MMA: MDOT article doesn’t need to refer to petition

Posted:  Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 11:30am

A legal opinion from Maine Municipal Association states a select board does not have to say a town meeting warrant article was inserted by petition. The question was raised at the Wiscasset select board meeting, Tuesday, May 16, about an article involving the Maine Department of Transportation’s downtown project.

A May 17 email from Town Manager Marion Anderson stated Town Clerk Linda Perry asked MMA’s legal department about the wording of Article 66 on the June 13 warrant.

“Michel Stultz, MMA attorney stated there is nothing in Maine Law that requires the singling out of a particular ballot article as ‘by petition or referendum,’” according to the email. Furthermore, Stultz advised town officials to avoid drawing special attention to one article over another.

The MMA opinion followed a question from the Wiscasset Newspapaer at the May 16 public hearing on the warrant. Reached for comment May 18, Selectman Larry Gordon said he’d prefer Article 66 stated it had been inserted by petition.

“It may be true we don’t have to but I think we should. It was the citizens that asked for the MDOT vote, not the board of selectmen. The article wouldn’t have been on the warrant if the people hadn’t asked for it,” he said.

Chair Judy Colby said the legal opinion brought up a good point about drawing attention to the article. “It’s a catch-22 for us.”

Selectman Ben Rines Jr. felt strongly the wording should have been included. “Whenever we’ve had an article come to us by petition, we’ve always included that wording so the voters know. It was an oversight on our part not to have included it.”

Voters will consider the warrant on Tuesday, June 13. The polls at Wiscasset Community Center will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.