Newry picks new road contractor
Newry selectmen last week tentatively awarded the bid for winter road maintenance for the next three years to Cross Excavation of Bethel.
The decision is pending a vote by townspeople at a special town meeting in August to authorize the board to award three-year contracts.
Cross bid $88,000 a year, D.A. Wilson $128,700 (with a formula to adjust each year according to the economy), and Ralph Harrington of Newry, $298,685 for all three years. Wilson had done the work for many years, until residents asked selectmen to bid it out this year.
Summer roadwork will be handled as a separate issue, the board said.
The special town meeting is now scheduled for Aug. 20 (instead of Aug. 6), in order to allow time for a public hearing on Aug. 6 on several proposed changes to the Unified Development Review Ordinance.
The changes include combining three sections of the ordinance into one, entitled “Application Procedure and Submission Requirements,” and revisions to sections dealing with standards for the commencement and completion of approved projects, and phasing of developments.
Voters are also expected to weigh in on whether or not they wish to have a management plan for the current stretch of state Scenic Byway on Route 26 in Newry. A committee has been working to update a 2000 plan, but the effort has met with opposition from property owners.
The exact wording of the article has yet to be determined, because selectmen need to clarify with state officials the town’s rights in the matter.
The Byways issue will also be discussed at the Aug. 6 hearing.
Selectman Brooks Morton suggested the town send out letters of notification to residents telling them of the proposed public hearing and vote. He said he believes people do not read newspapers as much in the summer, and are therefore not as aware of town issues as other times of the year.
And, he said, “People think things have gotten past with little or no participation.”
Selectman Wendy Hanscom wondered if sending letters might set a precedent.
Town Administrator Loretta Powers said hearings and meetings are advertised in newspapers, and are posted in public places and on the town website. She said the effort would waste money. “We can’t be babysitters to everyone,” she said.
Morton suggested they try the mailing once and see what happens, and the board agreed to do it. Powers estimated the cost to be about $110 in postage, plus materials and labor.
The special town meeting will also consider whether to require candidates for office to take out nomination papers before the annual town meeting, instead of simply being nominated from the floor.
Mil rate set
On Tuesday of this week selectmen set the mil rate for this year at 9.12, up from last year’s 9.05.