Alna joins climate partnership, discusses road commissioner role

Wed, 02/14/2024 - 12:15pm

    Alna joined the state Climate Resiliency Partnership on Thursday, Feb. 8 with the select board’s unanimous adoption of a resolution. By joining the program, the town becomes eligible for grants toward climate-focused municipal projects.

    Board member Steven Graham said he thought the resolution reflected the content of public climate committee meetings from the fall and approved of the requirement that any spending as a result of the partnership be approved by voters.

    “It’s broad enough, I think, to capture things without politicizing it,” he said.

    Because the grants are from the state, they could be used to meet match requirement for federal grants, according to First Selectperson Ed Pentaleri.

    Much of the meeting was spent discussing whether to create a job description for the elected role of road commissioner, which is now undefined.

    Pentaleri provided a draft of the description based on Maine Municipal Association materials. The definition could shift if the town decided to change the position from elected to appointed, an option board members said they were considering putting before voters.

    Board member Coreysha Stone said the select board could decide the commissioner’s duties if the role were appointed, which she felt might reduce disputes. Members also noted that the selectboard could discipline or remove someone from the role if appointed. As an elected official, the commissioner can only be removed by recall vote. Pentaleri described the existing recall ordinance as “very broad.”

    The discussion began due to concerns about the commissioner operating without a job description and the impression that it would be hard to know if he was effective as a result, members said.

    “I’m not sure I object to the content, but I’m not sure it’s necessary,” Graham said. “I’m not sure how I’ll vote.”

    Some comments said the draft seemed to apply to an appointed commissioner rather than elected and made confusing use of statute. Requirements of providing work plans, cost estimates, and invoices on a schedule might be an overreach by the board, according to public comment.

    In response to audience question, members said the proposal wasn’t made because they lacked trust in the road commissioner or the voters. Stone suggested defining the job would help residents make informed decisions.

    “It’s not intended to be controversial,” Pentaleri said. “It’s not intended to be complicated.”

    No vote was taken at the meeting.

    During public comment at the opening of the meeting, residents Mike Trask, Beth Whitney, and Jeff Spinney said they were opposed to a mining ordinance currently being workshopped by the planning board, saying the draft needs more time.

    The most recent draft summary provided by the board includes prohibited activities, creates environmental standards, and establishes regulatory requirements.

    It would prohibit industrial metallic mineral mining, rock crushing, asphalt batch plants, concrete mix operations, and pits over 50 acres. Quarrying and blasting would be prohibited in 2029. Existing language exemptions personal mining under half an acre extracting less than 24 cubic yards a year, or to allow construction.

    The draft sets a permitting process and annual reports.

    Commenters Feb. 8 named Crooker Construction, LLC specifically as a town taxpayer that would be affected by the ordinance if voters adopt it in March, along with smaller pits owned by individuals.

    “I can tell you right now, it’s going to be a battle if it goes (to town meeting) as is,” Spinney said.

    The Alna Select Board next meets at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22 in the town office and online. For more information, go to

    This article appears through a content-sharing agreement with the Lincoln County News.