WATERVILLE — At least three out of six city councilors say they will vote Tuesday to override Mayor Nick Isgro’s veto of a vote the council took earlier this month to place on the November ballot a request to enact a plastic bag ordinance that would prohibit retailers larger than 10,000-square-feet in size to dispense plastic bags.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the council chambers on the third floor of The Center at 93 Main St. downtown.

At the meeting, councilors also will consider approving an agreement with Colby College to use the Chace Community Forum in the new Bill and Joan Alfond Commons mixed-use residential complex on Main Street for council, planning board and other city meetings.

Councilors on Aug. 6 voted 4-1 to place the proposed plastic bag ordinance on the Nov. 6 ballot, with Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, the lone dissenter. Isgro later vetoed the council decision, saying in a statement that a bag ban referendum would invite special interest groups and “dark money funded influence peddlers” into Waterville, as well as further divide the community.

Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, said Monday in an email that he will vote to override the mayor’s veto.

“I plan to maintain my previous stance that this should be a decision made not by one mayor, six councilors or 75 people in attendance at the meeting, but by all residents in the city,” Soule said. “People will have time to hear both sides between now and November and then make a personal decision, based on their views.”


Councilor Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, said in a phone interview that she will support the veto override.

“Protecting the environment is something I personally feel very strongly about and support, and I think the effort to reduce single-use plastic in all its forms is commendable,” she said, adding that the Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition has done a lot to educate the community about the issue.

“However, I also understand that for the city to take this significant step is a big deal, and I think it’s appropriate it goes to the voters, which is why I support putting it on the ballot in November,” Tate said.

Councilor Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 6, also said she will vote to override the mayor’s veto.

“I have had many constituents reach out to me, encouraging me to allow them their right to vote on the issue,” she said.

But Mayhew said he is leaning toward voting to sustain Isgro’s veto for several reasons, including that he has talked with constituents, business owners and business managers about the issue and thinks the ordinance as written is not fair.


“I really believe it’s government overreach into people’s private and personal business of choice,” Mayhew said in a phone interview.

He said he supports Sustain Mid-Maine and has a good relationship with its members, but has had time to look at the proposed ordinance and believes it targets larger businesses such as Hannaford, Shaw’s and Walmart and not smaller businesses, and such an ordinance should be fair and consistent. Mayhew said he also thinks the ordinance gives the city the appearance of being unfriendly to business and would require an understaffed city code enforcement office to regulate large retailers — and that would cost the city money.

Councilors Nathaniel White, D-Ward 2, and John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, had not responded to requests for comment by 3:45 p.m. Monday. A woman who answered the phone at O’Donnell’s law office said he was in hearings all day. The Ward 3 council seat remains vacant since the resignation of Lauren Lessing earlier this summer.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors will consider approving a 3-year contract with Central Maine Growth Council for economic development services to help expand the tax base and promote job growth. The city has been a member of the Growth Council about 20 years.

The council will also consider taking a final vote to accept Federal Aviation Administration grants for $364,000 and $52,000 and contract with Stantee Consulting and CLT to complete projects including grubbing and grading and a wildlife hazard assessment and wildlife management plan at the city-owned Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport.

Councilors will consider taking a first vote to amend the parks and recreation ordinance to say all parks shall be open to the public from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and those found to be in the parks at other times will be considered to be trespassing and subject to prosecution unless a permit has been issued otherwise. Currently, city rules allow people to be in parks from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Amy Calder — 861-9247


Twitter: @AmyCalder17

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: