MANCHESTER — Residents and others at the annual town meeting argued about how voting would take place at the meeting, and who could speak at it before any substantive votes had even taken place.

Voters, about 40 minutes into Thursday night’s meeting, agreed to vote with their voices, not the red and green cards they’d been given when they entered the gymnasium at Manchester Elementary School, except when the voice vote results weren’t clear.

The debate got so heated residents voted to first reconsider, and then rescind, an earlier vote they’d made to let a nonresident speak, after he spoke out on a handful of warrant articles early.

Paul McCarrier described himself as a professional analyst hired by a group of residents concerned about warrant articles they viewed as expanding the power of selectmen.

In the first warrant article taken up, residents voted to allow McCarrier and other nonresidents, including Town Manager Patrick Gilbert and other town officials, to speak during the meeting.

After McCarrier spoke out on multiple articles and questioned moderator Lee Bragg’s choice of voting methods and other procedures, a resident who did not identify herself made a motion to reconsider the previous vote to allow nonresidents to speak.

Her motion passed, 40-30.

Residents then approved a motion to allow a handful on nonresidents, all town officials, to speak. But not McCarrier.

“I believe this is directed to prevent me, as a non-town member, from speaking,” McCarrier said before the vote, a statement no residents or officials disputed.

Outside the meeting, McCarrier said he believed Bragg erred in his running of the meeting, and he planned to consult the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

Residents, by a 41-15 vote, shot down a proposal to accept Bowdoin Street as a town road.

Bowdoin Street is the entrance to Manchester Medical Center, which includes Dr. Douglas Jorgensen’s Manchester Osteopathic Healthcare and other medical offices, off U.S. Route 202.

The intersection of one end of Old Winthrop Road with U.S. Route 202 and Bowdoin Street forms a triangle, with Bowdoin Street motorists crossing the end of Old Winthrop Road to get onto 202.

Resident Catherine Lewis said the intersection is unsafe, as motorists pulling out of Bowdoin Street frequently cut off motorists coming off 202 onto Old Winthrop Road.

Lewis and resident Josh Black also questioned why the town should take on, and maintain and plow, what they described as a private business’ driveway.

Jorgensen said the medical center created 35 new jobs and brings about 200 patients to Manchester every day. He said there are plans to bring other businesses to Bowdoin Street, too.

The meeting, attended by about 80 people, continued after presstime.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]


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