News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, March 22, 2018
Public hearing on rental housing rules April 2


On Castine Road, vehicles park in the driveway, yard and street at a modest, one-story house on March 20. Two additional vehicles parked in the yard are not shown in the photo above.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Sharon Bray

The public is invited to talk about a proposed rental housing ordinance before a Board of Selectmen meeting on April 2. The hearing at 4 p.m. will be followed by the board’s regular meeting.

Town Manager Jimmy Goodson said he has met with Maine Maritime Academy officials and has tried to get area real estate agents and property managers together for discussion. Now, Goodson said, he will talk with as many different agents and managers as he can contact before the public hearing.

The town has been encouraged by MMA to develop the proposed ordinance. A number of MMA students are tenants during their school year. Meetings between MMA and municipal officials have frequently included discussion of complaints about student renters.

The ordinance calls for registration of all rental units, including contact information about property owners and managers.

Resident Brooke Tenney asked if the proposed ordinance is posted on the town’s website, and Goodson said he would do so.

Board chairman Gus Basile said an earlier public meeting on the ordinance attracted a relatively small but very vocal group.

The board voted to approve a sewer bill abatement as recommended by the utility board. The sewer bill is based on metered water usage. Seasonal owners were out of state when their house on Main Street had a broken water pipe that resulted in a leak of more than 150,000 gallons of water in one month, according to Goodson. Most of the leaked water found its way into a storm drain in the cellar rather than into the sewer system, he said.

In other business, the board approved a request from the Main Street church to hold its Easter sunrise service on the town dock because snow banks would make it difficult to use their usual place at the Wilson Museum.

They also approved use of Fort Madison for a summer wedding. In response to a question about the couple’s connection to Castine, Town Clerk Susan Macomber responded that “they will be using local businesses.” In the past officials approved such usage in place of any family connection.

The board gave the town manager permission to apply for two grants. One would help pay for repairs to floats at the harbor. The other, in cooperation with Friends of Castine Fortifications, involves research on Fort George. Goodson said ground-penetrating radar will be used as they try to determine what was on the site before the British turned it into a Revolutionary War fort. The state owns the fort and has given permission for the project as long as the historic baseball field is preserved.

Goodson said famous Maine native Penobscot Indian Louis Sockalexis had played on the Fort George field, which has been used for local youth ball games in recent years.

Matching funds for that grant will be provided by the friends group, Goodson said.

Board members at a March 20 budget meeting will discuss two proposals to lease the take-out food business on the town dock but will not vote on which to accept until their next regular meeting April 2. The applicants are Bradley Buck, who worked for Dudleys at the business this past summer, and local residents Deb Hamblen-Wood and Walter Foster, according to Goodson.