Little Useful Information PresentedLittle Useful Information Presented at Low-Income Housing Meeting
at Low-Income Housing Meeting
Also in this issue:
Cell Tower Constructed
Business Tax Collection
Linking the .net to the .org
Letters to the Editor
In the last issue:
Dearborn Brothers Construction Withdraws Offer to Pave Road
Citizen Petition Submitted
Meetings and Limington Parade all on cable.
Flavor of Yesteryear captured by Limington Historical Society
Appeals Board exceeded Authority
Town Establishes Official Website
Jump to the August 3rd edition
Question: When is an informational meeting not an informational meeting? Answer: When the townspeople leave with more question than when they arrived.
by Dick Jarrett
Residents who had hoped to get answers about why low-income housing was needed in Limington walked away empty handed last Thursday night. York Cumberland Housing representative Genie Nakell answered many questions with "I don't have those figures in my head", or "I'll have to look that up", or some other non-informative or contradictory response.
While York Cumberland Housing came well prepared to show how beautiful their proposed project would look, most residents wanted to know why they chose Limington and what impact the project would have on taxes, schools, and crime. Meaningful answers were in short supply for these questions. Genie Nakell said that York Cumberland Housing chose to come to Limington because they felt that there was a need in the community. When questioned why they didn't ask the residents if the people of Limington felt there was a need, she said that they do not usually consult the communities. In fact, she volunteered, that this Limington Informational meeting was the first such meeting York Cumberland Housing had ever held in the ten years that she had worked there. "It's just not something we do," she added.
It was what Genie Nakell did not say that is more interesting. She did state that York Cumberland Housing had a market study done that demonstrated the need for low-income housing in Limington. What she did not let the people know was that the York Cumberland Housing first targeted Limington and only later commissioned a market study to justify their decision. The market study was one of the many documents that were not available at the meeting. However, the Limington Free Press was able to get a copy of the market study that was obtained under Maine's Freedom of Information Act. The document makes it clear that the study was done only after the decision had been made to come to Limington. The very first line of the study states: "York-Cumberland Housing Development Corporation proposes to purchase an approximately 20-acre site in Limington, Maine and develop 20 rental units." The study then goes on to justify the the decision based on the housing market area consisting of Limington, Baldwin, Buxton, Hollis, and Standish.
So what is the real reason they chose Limington? It is mainly because Limington is a community where they could get the government funding to build the project. They may have also figured that Limington would offer the least resistance via zoning laws and local opposition. After the decision was made to come to Limington, York Cumberland Housing paid a "professional market study person" to determine the need so that the funding could be justified to the agencies that hand out the government subsidies.
The Limington Department Store
And what did the professional market study person find? Among other things, the professional market study person was able to find a department store near the proposed development. This is why these professionals are paid the big bucks. Local people do not know about such things like this department store unless you consider that the nearby yard sales must be the equivalent of a department store. This professional market study person was also able to find schools nearby. While the local residents have had to bus their kids miles to either H. B. Emery or out of town to Bonny Eagle, the professional market study person stated unequivocally that the there are schools near the project.
Unfortunately accurate information from local people doesn't seem to matter. The bureaucrats in Augusta and Washington who hand out the money only need to see that a professional market study person has put these conclusions down on paper. It doesn't really seem to matter that the conclusions are based upon false information.
Local Residents First?
(A big IF and only then if you have squeaky clean credit)
Genie Nakell also offered out the plum that needy Limington residents would get first crack at the twenty apartments. But when pressed on exactly how the priority scheme would work, she gave such a confusing and contradictory series of answers that practically everyone was left scratching their heads. While when the housing project first opens, Limington residents may have a slight advantage, her answers seemed to indicate that the real determining factor will be a first-come first-served waiting list... a list that can go on for years and will contain names from all towns. But Limington residents don't even need to bother applying unless they have an almost spotless credit record. If an applicant has paid even one bill late in the last six months or been late even a few days on a rent payment within the last year, they will be ineligible to live in the apartments. They can also forget it if they have ever declared bankruptcy. And the public was surprised to hear that York Cumberland Housing performs a criminal background check on all applicants so that people who may have made a mistake in the past, no matter how responsible they are now, will not be able to live in these apartments.
Will York Cumberland Housing actually create homelessness and economic hardship for the residents of Limington?
It is ironic that while this government-funded project is supposed to help low-income people, it very well could have the opposite effect. The Limington Growth Ordinance limits the number of new dwelling units in town to 35 per year. York Cumberland Housing proposes to use 20 of those permits leaving only 15 for the rest of the townspeople. With only fifteen new houses available, the actions of York Cumberland Housing could actually create homelessness in Limington. Furthermore, the thirty-five houses per year are usually built one by one by small local contractors or contractors who employ local people. This returns money to the community and is an important part of our local economy. This twenty-unit housing project will be built using competitive bidding. Since few local contractors could handle such a large project, there is a very good chance that an out-of-town contractor with its own crew of out-of-town workers will build this complex. The economic hardship that will result in Limington may guarantee a ready supply of residents for the low-income housing project.
Housing more dense than ever
In the preliminary proposal, York Cumberland Housing had proposed a mix of two and four family buildings to give a more pleasing appearance and to give the residents more privacy. However in the plans to be presented to the Planning Board this week, they are now proposing that all of the apartments be located in four-family buildings. Why the change? The Limington Zoning Ordinance allows the complex to be built on fewer acres if four-family building are used so presumably York Cumberland Housing is proposing the maximum housing density possible under the law.
The Limington Railroad
For a few minutes, it looked like York Cumberland Housing might actually be willing to work with the people of Limington. After all, they did agree to hold this Informational Meeting. But it soon became clear that the meeting was just a public relations stunt to drum up support for the project. They probably also hoped to gather information from the townspeople to smooth the way for their upcoming Planning Board application.
Will the Limington people ever hear the real story behind the origins of the low-income housing project? Maybe yes. Maybe no. But one thing is clear: we will not get the story willingly from York Cumberland Housing. Unknown to the public and to the majority of the Planning Board at the time, York Cumberland Housing worked secretly with the former chairman of the Planning Board on this project. The Limington Free Press had placed a Freedom of Information request to the Town of Limington for all communications between York Cumberland Housing and the former Chairman Ralph Libby. The Town has responded, however, that no such records exist. When asked if York Cumberland Housing would be willing to provide copies of materials submitted to the Town so that people could see what was going on, Ms. Nakell testily replied "York Cumberland Housing is not in a position to Xerox applications for people". She also made it clear that only the Planning Board would get a copy of the application and that the public would have to look at that copy. Since the application is about two inches thick, it would make sense to have a copy available for circulation from the library or Town Clerk's office for public use. But it is clear that York Cumberland Housing does not really want the public to have the information. It makes one wonder if they have something to hide.
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by Dick Jarrett
The Selectmen have been working with the Financial Advisory Committee to discuss how the Rescue Department might be reorganized. Since reorganization could involve the reassignment and/or hiring of personnel, much of the discussion has been held in Executive (secret) Session. Rescue calls are now billed to insurance companies and a single call can cost $500. Ten percent of the money collected goes to the billing service. One possibility is the hiring of attendants from out of town so that more calls can be answered than can be done with a volunteer department.
Cell Tower Constructed in Burning Rose Subdivision
Limington's first cell tower has now been erected. Residents driving down Route 25 may have been surprised, however, to discover that, although it is not overly noticeable, the tower is plainly visible from the road. Before the monopole tower went up, it had been reported that the tower was set back so far that it could not even be seen from Route 25. Now that the structure is up and visible, one wonders just how much the supplied information can be trusted.
See the previous story in the June 28, 2000 Limington Free Press.
Business Tax Collection in Full Gear
Let me tell you how it will be;
There's one for you, nineteen for me.
'Cause I'm the taxman,
Yeh, I'm the taxman.
George Harrison Copyright (c) 1966 Northern Songs Limited
Business people throughout Limington report that tax specialist Gail Gantick has been around town verifying the business equipment inventories that were filled out by local businesses prior to April of this year. If she hasn't reached your business, don't worry even though everyone should now have received his or her tax bills. You may still get a visit since businesses not completed as of June 27th will receive a supplemental tax bill when her work is complete. Defending Limington's aggressive tax collection from businesses, Selectwoman Kathy Maddocks said that every year the Portland tax assessors list every computer and office fixture in her downtown job. However, many local business people feel that Limington is not Portland and the town should be encouraging business by not aggressively collecting these optional taxes. Many feel that these taxes are driving businesses out of Limington. Please also see the story and poll reported last March in the Limington Free Press.
Linking the .net to the .org
What is a Selectman's worst nightmare? Could it be the existence of a website like www.Limington.org? This may be the reason that the Town of Limington has recently created its own official website at www.Limington.net. But wait, interesting news from down in Tennessee last week may cause the Selectmen to have a few more sleepless nights. It seems a local tabloid paper The Putnam Pit requested that the Cookville TN city website place a hypertext link to their small free newspaper that had written numerous stories on government corruption. After the city refused, the Federal Appeals Court ruled last Thursday that the link must be established. See the Freedom Forum Online for the complete story. But the Limington selectmen need not worry. The Limington Free Press has not requested that such a link be established from the official Town website.
At least, not yet.
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Letters to the EditorTo The Taxpayers of Limington who Were Not Consulted
An "away" corporation is proposing to build a TWENTY UNIT sub-division for low income and homeless persons on Route 25 adjacent to the old Edgecomb property. Briefly, here is the scenario of how this came about:
On 16 February, in a letter to the corporation, the Chairman of the Limington Planning Board, unilaterally, and on official town stationery with the official town SEAL affixed to it, thanked the corporation for "contacting me regarding the application ... the site selected is very suitable" and "we look forward to working with you on this project should you receive funding." The very next day, February 17, our own Senator Jim Libby also stated to the same corportation : "I join many other public officials" and fully endorsed "the proposed project in Limington ... with no reservations."
Both of these letters became part of the corporations application to the Maine State Housing Authority and obviously served as the catalyst in awarding tentative state funding to the corporation for construction in Limington.
Susequently, The Maine State Housing Authority on 15 March, by letter, notified the Town of Limington of the proposal, and solicited an "invitation for the Town of Limington to comment on the proposed construction ... whether in support or opposition."
The Selectmen opposed the proposition and reportedly the chairperson wrote to the Maine State Housing Authority expressing their opposition. But, sadly enough, they did not conduct an informational town meeting to solicit citizen opinions, nor did they post any notice of the impending construction proposal in the media.
This project, if approved by the Planning Board, portends increases in: crime rate (which one selectman has stated is already the "highest" in the region); town welfare/assistance payments; burden on our understaffed Municipal Rescue department; and many more school children in the $28M-plus SAD6 system.
If this notice excites your interest, either pro or con, please attend the Limington Planning Board meeting of Thursday, 27 March at 7 (seven) PM and NOT 7:30 PM as posted on the Limington web site. It should also be noted that this corporation intends to apply for a permit to build an elderly housing complex in the Town of Limington in the near future.
Russell Peter & Anna F. BergEditor's note: The reference in the letter to the incorrect meeting time in the "Limington website" is referring to the official Town website and not www.Limington.org. Limington.org has always had the correct time and the official Town website has now been corrected.
If you have comments on the stories in the Limington Free Press or other issues of interest to the people of Limington, please feel free to send them to Admin@Limington.org for possible publication in this paper. Please include your name, phone number, and email address for verification.
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