Town Councilors listen to Building and Grounds Supervisor Brian Morin propose cemetery ordinance changes.

WINDHAM — Town councilors Tuesday took a step towards rectifying an issue that has long plagued them: the distinction between workshops and regular meetings.

Interim Town Manager Don Gerrish presented amendments to council rules to clarify the difference.

The matter has long been a source of contention. At a February meeting, a discussion devolved into Council Parliamentarian Bob Muir calling Councilor Jarrod Maxfield a “little pissant” as they debated whether an appeal for a reconsideration vote had been made at the appropriate meeting.

Under the new amendments, the first and third meetings of the month would be workshop meetings where no official business would be completed, Gerrish said. The second and fourth meetings of the month would be regular voting meetings for official business.

All councilors seemed to support the amendments, and Gerrish said he would bring the draft back to the council for a vote.

Also on Tuesday, the council heard from Building and Grounds Supervisor Brian Morin, who proposed amendments to the town’s cemetery ordinance.

Morin proposed increasing the cost of a standard gravesite from $200 for residents to $400 and from $350 for non-residents to $500.

He also proposed banning artificial flowers, solar lighting, trinkets and alcohol containers.

Many people are leaving things in the cemetery, and “it’s starting to look really horrible,” he said. It also makes it difficult to maintain the property.

Councilor Donna Chapman disliked Morin’s proposed limits and wanted to ensure that residents have a way to honor their loved ones.

Morin said he would work on the amendments further, perhaps requiring that trinkets be left on the headstone rather than on the ground, and bring it back to the council for a vote.

In other council news, councilors voted June 11 to approve amendments about allowed land uses in the C-3 zone, two weeks after voting against them.

The amendments to the town’s land use ordinance change the definition of construction services and allow contractor services, contractor storage yard and contractor services landscaping into the C-3 zone.

The council had considered similar zoning amendments three years ago but ultimately voted against the proposal. Holly Tubbs, co-owner of Water Systems Inc., a plumbing business at 158 Roosevelt Trail, brought the request before the council in December 2018. The council has met several times on the matter since.

At the May 28 meeting, the council voted 4-3 not to allow these new uses into the zone, with Councilors Chapman, Dave Nadeau and Muir in favor.

At the June 4 meeting, Council Chairman Clayton Haskell made a motion to reconsider the vote, which was approved, and the issue was tabled until the next meeting.

At the June 11 meeting, Haskell said he wanted to “put everybody on the same page. I just want to try to make everything as uniform as possible. We should have light commercial stuff.”

Maxfield asked, “Did you vote against it so you could bring it back?” and Haskell responded in the affirmative.

“The rules to bring back a motion are not supposed to be used because somebody didn’t like the vote that night,” Maxfield said. “That is so unethical. That’s supposed to be used when you changed your mind, not when you didn’t like what happened and wanted another bite at the apple.”

Haskell then proposed an amendment to allow class six vehicles – three-axle, single-unit vehicles – into the zone as contractor vehicles. The council had previously decided to allow only classes one through five.

His amendment failed, 5-2.

The council then voted in favor of allowing the new uses into the zone 5-2, with Maxfield and Councilor Tim Nangle against.

After the vote, Muir expressed some confusion about what the vote had accomplished.

“So are we back where we were with C-3? Did we change anything?” he asked.

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at [email protected]

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