Big Al’s fireworks store was the focus of a contentious select board meeting Tuesday, then the issue was tabled for two weeks to give town officials time to find evidence of site plans or building permits for the restaurant next door, Taste of the Orient.
Selectman Ben Rines Jr. objected to the order of items on the agenda relating to Al Cohen’s businesses. The business license approval for the fireworks store was listed before the approval for fireworks sales. Cohen’s attorney explained that, according to town ordinance, a fireworks sales permit can only be granted to a business that already has a license. Chair Judy Colby concurred. Rines said he believed the town’s attorney should have been there.
Colby said the town ordinance was very clear, and in any case, the attorney was consulted a few months ago and agreed the ordinance requires a business license before a permit to sell fireworks.
Kate Bryant objected to granting the license on the grounds a storage container on the same property as the store was less than 60 feet from the building. Cohen said that the storage container was empty, and he offered to move it off site, but he said it was more than 60 feet away.
Selectmen voted 2-3 to deny the license, with Rines, Jeff Slack and Kim Andersson voting against. Cohen’s attorney then wanted the site plan for the fireworks store entered into the record. Once Andersson saw it, she said she believed the vote should be reconsidered. Wiscasset Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Mullins said he had been there that day and measured, and the storage container was more than 60 feet from the store. Given the new information, the board was about to consider a motion to reconsider, when Cecilio Juntera, owner of Taste of the Orient, said the fireworks building was less than 50 feet from his restaurant.
Mullins said he had not measured that, but he offered to go and measure it if the selectboard wished it. He and Juntera went together to measure, while the selectmen went on with the agenda. When they returned, Mullins said the distance was 59 feet and a few inches from the fireworks store to the restaurant’s front steps. Cohen’s attorney said that in the 2012 site plan, the restaurant was more than 60 feet away, and that the front steps and awning must have been a later addition. Juntera denied this.
Selectmen voted to reconsider, and tabled the license for another two weeks to give selectmen time to find site plans and building permits related to the restaurant.
Business licenses for Cohen’s self-storage business and Datvik Deirkrikorian’s Water Lily Flowers and Gifts got unanimous approval, as did permit renewals for the town’s automobile graveyards/junkyards.
Cenergy Energy will meet with Town Manager John O’Connell Monday at 4 p.m. to discuss the financial aspects of the potential solar farms near Wiscasset Municipal Airport. The company will meet with the planning board that evening for a first pre-application meeting. O’Connell briefly discussed the town’s responsibility toward plowing the sidewalks downtown, saying the town’s goal is to make sure the stores can remain open and the sidewalks remain safe for pedestrians. He also said a newly discovered issue with the downtown traffic signals not communicating with one another may mean the blinking lights remain as they are for a time.
Outgoing wastewater treatment plant supervisor Richard Gaeth introduced the new operator, Rob Lalli.
Norma Gordon, 45-year veteran of the Appearance of the Town Committee, has resigned. Although she could not attend the meeting, Rines read a sentiment of thanks from the board. Terry Heller took a bouquet of yellow roses and a box of chocolates to Gordon after the meeting.