BATH — As the city entered 2019, it also said goodbye Dec. 31 to City Clerk Mary White, who retired after spending 23 years working for Bath.

The City Council on Wednesday, Jan. 2, unanimously appointed Deputy Clerk Mary Howe to serve as interim clerk for the foreseeable future.

“We’re going to take a break, and just let (Howe) settle in first, and see how comfortable she is, and go from there,” City Manager Peter Owen said before Wednesday’s meeting. 

The council also discussed an issue involving the city’s contract with Comcast cable, and approved a contract rezoning agreement. 

Owen and Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco said they expect the town clerk job to be permanently filled by this spring.

Howe became interim clerk exactly a year after being hired as deputy clerk. She previously was town clerk in Woolwich, and before that deputy clerk in Freeport. April Officer, another clerk’s office employee, replaces her as deputy clerk. 

White began as deputy clerk in 1995 under Beverly Henrikson, then became clerk in February 1999.

White “has left her mark in a very big way for the city of Bath,” Eosco said during the meeting, “and she has taken very good care of us as a city, but also specifically as a council, and we will miss ‘Mother Mary.'”

Later in the meeting, the council unanimously backed a letter to the Federal Communications Commission that expresses concern about a recent rule-making proposal that could eliminate franchise fees the city receives from Comcast.

Comcast pays 5 percent of its gross annual revenues in Bath as a municipal benefit to the city, according to Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers. Nearly $120,000 was generated in fiscal year 2018. The income in part supports Bath Community Television’s approximately $48,000 budget; the rest goes into Bath’s general fund.

The fee for Bath and other municipalities comes from subscriber charges; the elimination of those fees is apparently geared toward helping cable companies like Comcast remain competitive with online streaming services, Meyers explained.

“At this point we do not know when this may take effect, or what sort of process it will go through,” he said.

The council also granted second and final passage to a contract rezoning amendment, which allows a single building to be constructed on State Road.

The council last month granted initial approval to the contract zone for the vacant lot at 8 State Road. It would allow Mark Sewall of Pine Tree Engineering to build a 9,200-square-foot building that would include a nearly 3,400-square-foot brewery and tasting room, an 1,800-square-foot self-service laundry, and a 4,100-square-foot gym would also be on the site.

Sewall had originally proposed erecting two structures: a 3,400-square-foot brewery and tasting room, and a 5,300-square-foot building containing the gym and laundry center.

One structure ultimately made more sense to Sewall than two, Planning Director Ben Averill told the council last month. Councilors approved the initial contract rezoning agreement in September, and the Planning Board on Nov. 6 recommended the amendment.

In return for the contract rezoning, the developer’s conditions of approval include building a sidewalk along the property to tie in with anticipated future development, installing additional lighting along the property’s front, and putting in a catch basin to help manage stormwater.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Mary White wrapped up almost 20 years as Bath’s city clerk Dec. 31, 2018.

Mary Howe, left, is sworn in Jan. 2as Bath’s interim city clerk.