In a traditional town hall-style meeting, Raymond residents on Saturday voted on a variety of issues ranging from the adoption of a Land Use Ordinance to municipal and school budgets.

More than 100 people were in attendance at the meeting that continued throughout most of the day. Residents took to the podium to discuss issues as they were presented by the elected moderator, Joseph Bruno, who won the May 19th election for Selectman, defeating Chairperson Betty McDermott.

Among the most contentious issues discussed at the meeting was the amendment of an article of the Land Use Ordinance, which eventually passed overwhelmingly. Some residents who spoke at the meeting said the ordinance was an attempt by the Board of Selectmen to dictate to residents the extent to which they may develop privately owned land.

Raymond resident Greg Foster said he was opposed to the article because he saw the ordinance “negatively affecting landowners,” and that such an enactment was “detrimental to people’s long-term stewardship.”

In response, John Rand, a member of the Raymond Conservation Commission, said the ordinance, although limiting the number of building permits per resident and confining development to the village area, was an attempt to “maintain the rural character of the town”-a sentiment echoed by proponents of the ordinance.

“It’s a state-of-the-art growth management tool,” Rand said at the meeting, stating that the ordinance contains “Raymond-resident friendly exceptions,” such as exemptions for those residents who have lived in Raymond for more than 10 years, permits issued for family members, and elderly and affordable housing.

Charlie Cole, another resident present at the meeting and who viewed the ordinance with suspicion, said, “I believe in property rights, and this (ordinance) does diminish property rights. The village has limited growth potential.”

When asked what effect, if any, the Land Use Ordinance would have on developers in the Raymond area, Cole responded saying, “big-time developers are not interested in just five units per year. This policy is a reversal of what has happened historically.”

Although Cole said he does not own any acreage in Raymond, he believes that if he did, he should reserve the right to develop as he sees fit. “I probably wouldn’t,” he said, “but I at least I would like the choice to do so.”

A color-coded map exhibited at the meeting showed just how bottom-heavy the population of Raymond has become, as residential development is confined primarily where the village meets Sebago Lake, something Cole suspects might impact the environment.

“This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” he added.

In rebuttal, Selectman Mark Gendron said Raymond “exceeds environmental standards” and residents “are very cognizant of the environment.” When asked about the limitations the ordinance imposes on private land owners, especially those who live in rural areas, Gendron repeated that “one of the biggest things here is the rural character of Raymond.”

Elizabeth Algeo, another member of the Raymond Conservation Commission, says this is a regional issue.

“A lot of towns are dealing with development which is aesthetically and environmentally unappealing. Of course, I’m more concerned with the environment than aesthetics.” Even Charlie Cole, who voted against the ordinance, conceded that “there are those who like rural living” and who wish to secure their town from over-development.

In a related issue, the town voted to accept an endowment of $25,000 from Anne and Jack Spiegel of Portland. The money is to be used for the “Anne and Jack Spiegel Fund for Morgan Meadow” wildlife management area. The interest from this endowment will be used to maintain the state-owned refuge and to educate the public in wildlife and forest management.

Town residents also voted to ban parking on the “portion of Mill Street from Main Street to Kings Grant including the traveled way, and paved shoulders.” Town Manager Don Willard said youths have taken to “unwholesome activity” in that area, such as underage drinking and “God knows what else.” Although the ban will prohibit recreational boaters from parking their cars on Mill Street and accessing the water there, the ordinance is intended to prevent youths from participating in illegal or objectionable behavior and to lighten traffic and congestion.

In addition, the Raymond residents approved a Dog Ordinance by a slim margin, whereby canines are to be restrained on a leash and are to be cleaned up after at all times. According to the ordinance, the windows of cars are not to be lowered enough to allow canines to put their heads outside of the vehicle.

One resident expressed her concern that if the windows are rolled up the animals could certainly perish in the summer heat. There was some debate at the meeting concerning the language of the ordinance, and as to whether dogs are allowed on school property if they are under restraint. Vice Chairman Michael Reynolds said that it was his intention to prevent people from bringing their dogs on school property.

The town also voted to increase the property tax levy limit, which is required by the Property Tax Limiting Legislation, or LD-1, passed by the Maine Legislature last year. According to Town Manager Willard, a net budget of no more than $1,506,900 can be approved without a town vote. Two separate-yet-related warrant articles – the creation of a road construction and management reserve in the amount of $175,000 and a Fire Department reserve in the amount of $85,000 – both passed. They needed the vote of the town because they were increases to the spending limits allowed by LD-1.

Outgoing Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Betty McDermott was honored by Vice Chairman Michael Reynolds at Saturday’s meeting.

“When I first started out I didn’t know anything,” said Reynolds. “Betty took me under her wing and showed me everything.”

To a standing ovation, McDermott accepted Reynolds’s accolade and a “warm handshake.” When reached at her home in Raymond on Monday, McDermott said she was flattered by Reynolds’s words. “He made me feel special,” she said. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

When asked what is next for McDermott, she responded that she would like to devote more time to the Lions Club and the Raymond Historical Society, both of which she is a charter member. “I would also like to devote more time to my husband,” she laughed.

McDermott, in a final act as chairperson, presented a check in the amount of $7,500 to Howard Styles, Chairman of the Raymond Veterans’ Memorial Committee, for a veterans’ memorial in Raymond, the first in the town’s history. The check was given on behalf of the Raymond Founders’ Day Committee, according to McDermott.


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