Canaan residents raise their hands to cast votes Saturday morning during the annual town meeting at the Canaan Farmers Hall. About 70 people attended. Jake Freudberg/Morning Sentinel

CANAAN — Residents approved $1.8 million in municipal spending and enacted a new property maintenance ordinance at Canaan’s annual town meeting Saturday.

The approved budget marks an increase of about 10% over the $1.63 million in spending passed by voters last year. It is too soon to know how the increase will affect residents’ tax bills this year, since the Somerset County and Maine School Administrative District 54 budgets have yet to be decided.

Another unknown is a property revaluation — the first for Canaan in almost 20 years — that is expected to be completed later this spring. How the revaluation will affect taxes will not be known until it is completed, town officials wrote in the annual town report.

More than 70 residents of Canaan’s approximately 1,300 registered voters, braved an early spring snowstorm and turned out to the Canaan Farmers Hall at 296 Main St. They passed all warrant articles as written in about two hours.

Some articles, though, such as the new Property Maintenance Ordinance, drew lengthy discussion that at times led the moderator and town officials to raise their voices to keep order.

The ordinance was previously rejected by residents several years ago, said Code Enforcement Officer Randy Gray, who is retiring this year after 31 years of working for the town.


“I think I’m obligated to bring something to you folks,” Gray said, noting that several properties in Canaan consistently draw complaints from neighbors.

The new ordinance sets “a minimum standard for the maintenance of the grounds of property in order to protect public health, public safety and property values,” according to a copy included in the meeting warrant.

The standards specify that all property needs to be free of junk, trash, scrap lumber and many other kinds of debris. A property owner intending to use those materials may keep them on the property as long as they fence it off from the road and neighboring property, the ordinance says.

The ordinance also requires recreational vehicles or other similar types of shelters to meet requirements for residential structures if they are placed on site for more than 120 days.

The ordinance spells out the full process for actions taken against violations, which begin with a written notice from the town code enforcement officer and allow for appeals of violations to the Select Board.

Gray fielded a slew of questions about the ordinance, with some residents concerned that the code enforcement officer could subjectively interpret the ordinance in regard to someone’s personal property.


In response, Gray said that the ordinance is detailed in what constitutes a violation and that the Select Board ultimately has a check on the code enforcement officer, since violations can be appealed to the board.

“This will not impact the average person,” he said.

In other matters, residents approved keeping all secondary roads in Canaan open to all-terrain vehicles, a decision that drew significant debate before approval, as it did last year when it was first approved.

An article changing terms for Select Board members from one-year terms to staggered three-year terms beginning next year also passed. The change will help with continuity, Selectman Daniel Harriman said before the vote.

Road expenses account for a large portion of the approved spending. Voters gave the OK for $212,200 for winter road maintenance; $157,700 for summer road maintenance; $250,000 for road improvement projects, including Salisbury Road and Morrill Pond Road; and $100,000 to be placed in a reserve account for the purchase of highway department motorized equipment. A portion of excise tax revenue, $50,000, for the first time will also be set aside in a reserve account to be used for road projects.

Other major expenditures include $429,269.94 for town administrative expenses, $152,500 for solid waste reduction, and $84,700 for the Fire Department.

Municipal elections will be held Monday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Canaan Town Office, 277 Main St.

For the three Select Board seats, all with one-year terms, incumbents Harriman and Megan Y. Smith are running for reelection along with Jeffrey P. Clarke and Julie A. Santos. Road Commissioner Michael W. Robinson Jr. is running unopposed for another one-year term.

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