SKOWHEGAN — Selectmen Tuesday night agreed with the town’s code enforcement officer that it is time to drop a requirement to hold public hearings for license renewals of the town’s junkyards and automobile graveyards.

Randy Gray, the code enforcement officer, said a state requirement to hold such public hearings was repealed in 2005. He said if he is doing his job correctly — inspecting and making sure that abutting property owners are not adversely affected by a junkyard of auto recycling dealer — then a public hearing should not be necessary.

He said the annual license still is needed, but the public hearing has been waived.

“The law changed for renewal of (automobile) graveyards licenses year after year. They did not have to have a public hearing,” Gray said. “They just have to be inspected and bring a recommendation to selectmen.”

Selectmen Paul York and Betty Austin noted that the public still will be able to comment on activities at the junkyards when the license renewals come up during a regular selectmen’s meeting.

The change will affect operators of junkyards or automobile recycling centers in Skowhegan: David and Bonny Folsom, at Folsom & Sons Auto Salvage on Rowe Road; Brian Keyte, at Kennebec Metal Recycling on Brown Street; and Norman Ellis, at Norm’s Deals on Wheels on Canaan Road, which currently is inactive, Gray said.

Gray said when the town learned of the change in state law, it was too late to take the proposal to selectmen for approval, so they waited until this month to do it.

“The advantage is that they don’t have to have a public hearing and they don’t have to do a legal advertisement in the paper, so it saves them so money,” he said. “I try to save people money when I can. We have good, licensed long-term junkyards in this town that get renewed every year.

“If I’m competent in my job, that’s all it should take.”

The three licenses would have been up for renewal at the next selectmen’s meeting, to be held Dec. 26. The expiration date is Dec. 31.

Gray and administrative assistant Cynthia Kirk said they don’t recall any of the annual public hearings generating any discussion of or questions about approval.

They said that any new automobile graveyards or recycling centers still will need to hold a public hearing before approval by selectmen. Materials have to be screened properly, oils must be isolated and recycling has to be done the right way.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Gray said of the move to stop requiring public hearings for license renewals. “If we can save the taxpayers a little money, that’s good. If there’s a violation, that doesn’t stop me from doing my enforcement, one way or the other.”

In other business Tuesday night, selectmen voted to accept $13,669 as part of the FEMA 2018 Disaster Recovery Grant to mitigate storm damage that took place Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, 2017. The funds will repay expenditures made by the Fire Department, the Highway Department and the Parks and Recreation Department.

Selectmen also agreed to replace the baler at the transfer station and to approve a new contract for Town Manager Christine Almand. The contract is for three years and includes a 2 percent raise each year.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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