The Winslow Town Office, off Benton Avenue, is seen on Thursday. Scott Monroe/Morning Sentinel

WINSLOW — The Town Council voted this week to launch an investigation into claims that councilors have held private meetings outside of the public eye to discuss municipal business, which would be a violation of Maine’s open meetings law.

A resolution introduced Monday by Councilor Dale Macklin directs Town Manager Erica LaCroix and Town Attorney Bill Lee to hire an independent law firm to investigate the allegations. The resolution, which generated little discussion, specified that the investigation should cost no more than $15,000.

Winslow Town Councilor Jerry Quirion says members of the council have been illegally meeting in secret to discuss town business. Morning Sentinel file

The council unanimously approved the measure, with Councilor Jerry Quirion abstaining.

It was Quirion who in an interview with the Morning Sentinel last week said a quorum of councilors have been meeting roughly once a month at the business owned by the council chairman, Peter Drapeau. A quorum is the minimum number of members required to be present for a group to conduct official business or make decisions. Because there are seven councilors in Winslow, a quorum would constitute four of them gathering together.

Quirion said he had attended seven or eight of these “secret meetings” but stopped attending because he was uncomfortable discussing town business out of public view. He knew, like all the other councilors, that the meetings were illegal, according to Quirion.

“I would leave just as they would start talking about town business. It was time to leave,” Quirion said earlier. “I told them that was not a good thing, I gotta leave. (Drapeau’s) got too many people here discussing what shouldn’t be discussed.”


Drapeau said last week that Quirion’s claims are false and part of a personal feud. Though he admits councilors regularly come out to his place of business at 150 Taylor Road, Drapeau said there’s never a quorum of councilors present and town business is “very seldom” discussed.

“I run a trucking business and a fabrication shop, and (councilors) stop in to see what’s going on in any particular day,” Drapeau said. “But no, there has never been a quorum. And we have checked with all of the attorneys.”

Peter Drapeau is chairman of the Winslow Town Council. Morning Sentinel file

But Drapeau said that in order for the town to “get things done,” it’s necessary for two or three councilors to regularly discuss town business outside of council chambers.

“When we’re spending millions and millions of dollars, of course we talk about it other than in council chambers, right? How can you not? You cannot,” Drapeau said earlier. “So I am guilty of talking to other councilors, and I am guilty of councilors coming out here at times and talking to me, but never a quorum, and never in a position where we make decisions.”

Contacted Tuesday about the matter, LaCroix said in an email that town employees are not allowed to comment on ongoing investigations.

In other business Monday, councilors voted to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, ending a moratorium on such dispensaries.


Winslow was one of many towns that enacted moratoriums on dispensaries after Maine legalized recreational marijuana in 2016. The town has only allowed medicinal marijuana shops in the years since, and now has five of those dispensaries.

Councilors voted unanimously to revise the town’s zoning laws, clearing the way for recreational dispensaries to set up shop in the industrial and mixed-use zones that run along Winslow’s western border beside the Kennebec River.

Officials are hoping that recreational dispensaries will bring business to the town. While local governments can’t place their own taxes on marijuana sales, LaCroix said property and business taxes from dispensaries could provide revenue for the town.

“Across the river in Waterville, they’re making a lot of money on being able to issue these business permits for marijuana facilities, and they’re popping up everywhere,” LaCroix said earlier Tuesday. “We don’t necessarily want to be that over here, but at the same time, we cost so much less that it kind of encourages facilities to come to this side of the river.”

Winslow hasn’t received applications to open any dispensaries yet, but officials expect them to start rolling in when the town’s zoning changes take effect next month.

“We kind of know that medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, they’re a fact of life. They’re here to stay,” LaCroix said. “We don’t necessarily want to encourage having a shop on every corner, but we also don’t want to lock out legitimate business.”

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