Alna eyes town vote on petition-led shoreland rules change

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 1:30pm

    Alna voters may not have cast their last ballots of 2020. Town Clerk Sheila McCarty said she has certified 51 signatures on Ralph Hilton’s petition to reword part of the shoreland zoning ordinance. Over Zoom Nov. 5, selectmen began planning a referendum on the proposal.

    In public comment before selectmen explained they were considering a referendum, resident Cathy Johnson voiced concern about an open town meeting, given the pandemic’s recent surge. She asked if the vote could wait until the annual town meeting in March. “I’m just worried about COVID,” she said.

    “We all are,” and an outdoor, special town meeting in December would not be very appealing, Second Selectman Doug Baston responded. So the board has talked referendum, he said. With that, he said, “You go, you vote, you leave.” He thought the question needed to go to voters within 60 days, but the board can find out if waiting til the annual town meeting is an option, he said.

    McCarty said Hilton submitted the petition Oct. 23. It proposes adding to a table of the uses, “permanent structures for functionally water-dependent uses with a (National Resources Protection Act) permit where required.”

    Hilton said the town has been using two different scenarios when it considers shoreland projects. The amendment’s goal is consistency, he said. 

    The board discussed a possible referendum date of Tuesday, Dec. 8 and a possible Zoom public hearing ahead of the vote. Baston said the board has asked the planning board to review the proposal, not to say whether or not to approve it, but because “they’re kind of the subject matter experts” and would know if the amendment poses any problem, he said.

    “That’s absolutely fine. I think everybody should be looking at it,” Hilton said.

    Also Nov. 5, the board kept William Brewer as auditor for $7,200, the same as last year, First Selectman Melissa Spinney said.