WATERVILLE — In a surprise move Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to uphold Mayor Nick Isgro’s veto of a vote the council took March 6 to create a housing study committee.

With Councilor Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, absent Tuesday and the Ward 5 council seat vacant after Nick Champagne’s recent resignation, councilors voted 5-0 against overriding Isgro’s veto.

There was no discussion before or after the vote, but Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, said after the meeting that not all councilors were of the same persuasion on the issue as when they voted earlier this month to create the study committee.

“We knew that we weren’t going to be able to come to a compromise and we wouldn’t have the consensus to override the veto, so we thought it was best to let it go and move on to other pressing items,” Soule said.

Isgro said after the meeting that he was glad councilors did not override his veto.

“I’m very pleased that the council had an open approach on this and seemed to really listen to the voice of the people who spoke in opposition to this study committee,” he said.

The council voted 6-0 March 6 to create the committee, which would have investigated methods and tools to help city code enforcement officers ensure that businesses renting properties for housing meet city, state and federal government laws and ordinances related to health and safety and construction standards.

The next day, March 7, Isgro vetoed the council’s vote to create a housing study committee.

The committee would have looked at vacant and abandoned properties and work with city departments, including code enforcement, to explore what other communities are doing to address the need for safe housing.

The committee would have had up to 10 members, including three city councilors; a representative of the Waterville Housing Authority; a landlord; two residents, Erik Thomas and Bob Murray; Paula Raymond, a representative of the South End Neighborhood Association; and ex-officio, or nonvoting, members including code enforcement officers Daniel Bradstreet and Garth Collins and City Planner Ann Beverage.

Isgro’s written veto said those promoting the committee had “insidious” intentions to enact a landlord registry that would involve fees for rental property owners.

Councilors later said the resolution was not looking to create a registry, which was floated as a possible outcome last summer.

City Manager Michael Roy said Monday that whenever a mayor vetoes a council decision, the issue automatically goes back on the agenda for council consideration. The council did not ask to consider overriding the veto.

Roy said five council members had to vote to approve the housing study committee for the mayor’s veto to be overturned.

In other matters Tuesday, the council voted 5-0 to award a contract to Freightliner, of Bangor, for a $153,997 dual-axle dump truck with accessory equipment to replace an old truck. Freightliner submitted the lowest of five bids received for the truck and equipment.

Roy said that over the last two weeks, two and three city trucks were inoperable at various times, even during snowstorms, and the city had to hire plow trucks to help.

“This is extremely important,” he said of awarding a contract for a new truck.

Soule concurred, intimating that Public Works Director Mark Turner has had his hands full with equipment breakdowns.

“If you look up the word ‘adversity,’ I think you’d find Mark’s picture,” Soule said, to laughter and applause.

City Clerk Patti Dubois reminded those present that her office is accepting letters of intent from people interested in being appointed to the Ward 5 council seat. The letters must be submitted to her office in City Hall by 5 p.m. March 29, she said.

Dubois also praised her election crew, including Joan and Roland Hallee and Herb Oliver, who worked during a snowstorm last week and had to have their vehicles plowed out when it was time to leave.

“It was a skeleton crew and they did yeoman’s work,” she said. “It was a long day.”

The council also voted 5-0 to award a $147,295 contract to B&B Paving Inc. of Hermon, and a contingency allowance of $14,729, for a pavement upgrade on County Road. The work would be done this summer. B&B submitted the lowest of eight bids the city received for the project.

The council voted 5-0 to change the zoning at 19, 21 and 23 Summer St. from residential to contract zoned commercial with the conditions that a financial institution is the only permitted use and that the dimensional requirements of the transitional district would apply. New Dimensions Federal Credit Union is requesting the change because it wants to construct a credit union branch there.

Councilors approved authorizing the city to apply for funds for projects this year at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport and donate two properties to the airport. The council also voted 5-0 to award a $21,175 contract to Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, of Waterville, for paint used to stripe streets, parking lots, crosswalks and parking stalls.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 


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