PITTSFIELD — After discussion that lasted more than an hour, the Pittsfield Town Council decided Tuesday to return to in-person meetings, with virtual options available to the public and no requirements for social distancing or masks.

The vote was 5-2 to return, with Mayor Heather Donahue and Deputy Mayor Tim Nichols voting in opposition.

The council had decided in the spring that meetings’ formats would depend on the level of COVID-19 transmission in the county, as reported by the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

If the county were in green, or low transmission, the council would meet in person. If the county were in red, or high transmission, as has been the case for the past several weeks, the council would meet only over Zoom.

In July, the council passed a remote meeting policy that allowed councilors to participate remotely — under certain circumstances — through a video call. It stipulates all meetings be broadcast online.

The tension at Tuesday night’s meeting was not unexpected after councilors argued at their last meeting about why the item had not been included on the agenda.


Councilor Jason Hall, who originally brought up the topic, said the regulations the council approved in the spring were passed under the state of emergency, and are no longer valid given the state of emergency has ended.

“That was passed under emergency legislation, and that would have expired at the end of June,” Hall said. “Therefore, it has no legal precedence for us to follow. We shouldn’t be following it.”

Councilor Amanda Collamore, who also serves as a state representative, agreed, saying she had consulted with several others at the State House who told her the same thing.

Don Chute, the town’s safety coordinator and health officer, and Bernard Williams, the fire chief and Emergency Management Agency director, both said they did not recommend a return to in-person meetings, and certainly not in the usual meeting space in the basement of the Town Office.

“I just think that a little common sense goes a long ways here,” Chute said. “So if you ask my recommendation, I don’t think we ought to be packing at council chambers and a bunch of people.”

The council chambers is not large and has poor ventilation and no windows, according to some officials.


Williams did report the town had installed two air purifiers in the basement that should help a bit.

Hall said he was concerned about the potential for mold in the basement.

“Obviously, if there’s a mold issue down in that basement, I don’t think that’s really a good situation for anybody either,” he said. “So I would elevate that to a more-concerning level.”

Williams said no one had found mold, but the room’s conditions is ideal for mold to grow.

Later in the meeting, Chute announced he was resigning from his position. Reached by telephone Wednesday, Chute said he had been considering resigning for a while because the safety coordinator/health officer position requires long hours. Ultimately, he said he was frustrated by the indecision from the council, and felt people were not trying to work toward solutions.

“I’ve been torn for the last couple of months, but it got to the point that I don’t want to be the one blamed for inaction,” Chute said Wednesday.


In discussions about mask wearing, Councilor Peter Logiodice said it was up to individuals to do as they chose.

“I say that you should do whatever you feel to protect you, and I will do what I feel to protect me,” Logiodice said. “And my recommendation is no mask for me. But that may not be your recommendation that you want to follow.”

Donahue asked Logiodice if he would wear a mask if the council were to pass a mask requirement. He said he would not.

Collamore said she could not wear a mask because of a medical condition.

Collamore also said many residents do not have reliable internet service to connect to video calls, creating a burden for residents who want to participate. Even when calling from within the Town Office, Collamore said she had issues getting her video to work and with getting kicked out of the meeting.

Several other larger and better ventilated spaces around town were suggested as alternate meeting locations, including a school gymnasium and the empty theater.

Donahue said she would like to see the council have a plan in place in case the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic worsens.

There were other safety suggestions, including checking people’s temperatures and requiring protective masks. Ultimately, councilors accepted none.

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