VASSALBORO — Voters gave nearly unanimous approval to an ordinance limiting the use and size of an exploding mixture commonly used for target practice Monday night.
At least 100 voters gathered in the gymnasium of Vassalboro Community School to approve the annual town budget, as well as several other issues on the Town Meeting warrant.
While the budget wasn’t finalized by Monday night, Town Manager Mary Sabins said it is expected to be about $3,782,600, which is about $37,000 more than last year’s budget. If that holds up, it will increase property tax by about $4 for every $100,000 of assessed value.
Discussion about the ordinance last month brought out several residents looking for restrictions on the exploding target, which is the combination of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder that produces a loud bang after being struck by a high-speed projectile. A couple residents commented at the public hearing about the targets, including John Cote, one of the voters who opposed the ordinance.
The ordinance calls for the limit of up to one pound of the mixture to be used and it cannot be detonated within 500 yards of someone’s property without their permisson. People using the targets for shooting pracitce has become a problem in town, residents said at a public hearing two weeks ago.
A civil penalty of $500 will be imposed on the first offense, with $1,000 violations for each subsequent offense. Each detonation of a target may be considered a separate violation, according to the ordinance.
In addition to approving the ordinance, voters rejected the use of surplus money and future labor costs to construct sidewalks in East Vassalboro village, including areas near the library and the boat landing.
Debate for and against sidewalks went on for about 20 minutes, with advocates citing safety and a better connection for rural town, while opponents argued that town money is already stretched, and existing sidewalks already lacked proper winter maintenance.
The article failed to pass by a vote of 52 for, 63 against.
Voters also approved the funding of $15,000 for a town medical emergency first responders organization, which will hopefully cut down the response time for medical emergencies. A group of eight to 10 volunteers were requesting the $15,000, most of which would go to first aid kits that would include an automated external defibrillator.
As the crowd dwindled to about 50 voters, the residents who remained approved a tax increment financing district around the natural gas development in town, using the sheltered tax money from natural gas pipeline development for future economic or business development projects.
The article was passed after a 30-minute public hearing, where attorney Shana Cook Mueller of Bernstein Shur in Portland, who is working with the town, explained the TIF and answered the voters’ concerns. The article was passed unanimously.