Residency re-emerges as issue in Alna

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 7:45am

    Residency was a heated topic in Alna when the town wrestled with school choice costs and, in 2018, with its school district’s OK, ended the publicly funded private school option for K-8 school choice for anyone not already living in town. In last month’s election and in a Zoom selectmen’s meeting Wednesday night, April 7, residency has returned as an issue.

    A public hearing will be set on voter challenges in the March 27 referendum town meeting and elections, town treasurer and former interim town clerk Amy Stockford said in the April 7 meeting.

    Stockford has said the challenges involved whether or not the people lived in Alna or lived in an illegal in-law apartment. Those voters were allowed to cast their ballots, she said. And selectmen April 7 tabled action on Code Enforcement Officer Tom McKenzie’s findings from his investigation that, according to the agenda, involved “contested residency/voter eligibility.”

    McKenzie told selectmen he found two illegal residences. Selectmen are consulting Maine Municipal Association on McKenzie’s findings. Wiscasset Newspaper requested the findings. McKenzie forwarded them, minus names and addresses. It states one person said they did not live at that residence, they rent it out to others; another “claims no one lives in the camper out front”; another said they are taking steps to comply with the ordinance; and McKenzie notes he spoke with someone on Alna Road. “X and x are an unmarried couple.” The email ends there.

    Stockford has contacted the Secretary of State’s office for the protocol on the voter challenge hearing. She said she will coordinate with interim Town Clerk Lisa Arsenault on it. “There’s really not a lot of guidance in the statute.”

    What makes an illegal home, participants asked. McKenzie said town building codes describe a dwelling as single-family, and state who can stay in an accessory apartment and for how long.

    Also April 7, selectmen approved this year’s tax anticipation note, a $600,000 one with Bath Savings at 1.44% interest.

    If interested in the open seats on the planning and appeals boards, contact the town, selectmen said.