Belfast City Council to discuss consolidating polling locations, subdivision right-of-way, and Montessori school lights

Mon, 11/20/2023 - 9:45pm

    BELFAST — The Belfast City Council will meet Tuesday, Nov. 21, for their regular meeting. Agenda items on Belfast City Manager Erin Herbig’s pre-meeting report include possible election polling location consolidation, a potential subdivision right-of-way, and Cornerspring Montessori School school lights, among others. 

    The first item on Herbig’s pre-meeting report is a discussion with the City clerk on election polling locations. City staff have recommended that wards 1-2 combine their voting location with wards 3-4, who have used the Tarratine Tribe Hall as their polling location for several elections, according to the report.

    Some of the reasons listed for moving the location of 1-2 include the size and location of the Tarratine Tribe Hall, in addition to added safety, parking, and accessibility. City Clerk Angie Crosby believes that the move would also provide improved election staffing by reducing the number of polling stations from three to two. This would reportedly allow for a greatly increased amount of oversight at the remaining two polling locations.

    Prior to the COVID-19 wards 1-4 both utilized the Belfast Boathouse as their polling location from 2013, before moving to the Crosby Center. During the pandemic the City moved back to three locations to make social distancing easier.

    Crosby is recommending that the Council consider the proposal to have wards 1-4 vote at the Tarratine Tribe Hall beginning in March 2024.

    “This will give staff time to see how the 2024 March primary goes before the June election into the presidential election in November 2024.”

    Crosby will be present at the meeting to answer questions.

    Cornerspring Montessori School is requesting the Council install reduced speed limit signage on lower Congress Street. The Code and Planning Department received the request from the Montessori Board of Trustees for Council consideration of the installation of two flashing school zone signs that would slow the speed limit on lower Congress Street to slow the speed to 15 mph during specific times of day. The Cornerspring Montessori School is located at 256 Congress Street.

    The proposed signage would be consistent with the signage currently used at Belfast Area High School. If the proposal is approved, the signs would be placed 300 feet from either side of the school’s driveway. Cornerspring Montessori will cover all costs of materials, installation, and maintenance.

    In addition, the School plans to purchase a “BlinkLink,” which is a school zone alert software and control system used for programming and operation. The system gives schools the ability to amend the light schedule as needed, including early release days, delayed openings, and holidays. The signs would be lit 30 minutes before school starts and remain on 30 minutes after school ends, according to Herbig’s report.

    Later in the meeting the Council will have a discussion regarding the right-of-way and a turnaround area on Priscilla Lane. The aim of completing the unfinished turnaround on the City-owned street is to allow the property owners Bill and Kym Sanderson to subdivide their 24 acre lot, which abuts Congress Street and Priscilla Lane. The owners reportedly started work on subdividing the property into five lots.

    According to Herbig’s report, the City has been maintaining Priscilla Lane for decades. The right-of-way for Priscilla Lane has been identified as 16.5 wide and contains between 18 and 20 feet of pavement. The Street dead ends next to the Sanderson property and does not have a finished turnaround area.

    City ordinances require that the construction of a proper turnaround and widening of the right-of-way must be completed to subdivide property. Turnarounds allow a smooth traffic flow for delivery trucks and first responders that do not include private property or reversing direction. Widening the right-of-way is to have all the pavement on City land and allow for space for potential future and infrastructure improvements.

    “The City has historically taken the policy stance that developers are responsible for infrastructure improvements on their land and in the City’s right-of-way. The Sandersons have identified they financially cannot build the turnaround and pay all the costs and fees for the subdivision approval process with the Planning Board. They can still sell lots without subdivision approval so long as they only sell a lot or two once every five years. This process will leave Priscilla Lane as it currently exists, making future housing development harder to accomplish in the future.”

    According to Herbig’s pre-meeting report, the Sandersons have requested the Council to approve the finished construction of the turnaround area and to accept land to increase the width of the right-of-way from 16.5 feet to 33 feet. Approval of the proposal by the Council can only be executed once the Belfast Planning Board approves the subdivision for the 24-acre lot at 157 Congress Street. Map 34, Lot 33.

    Additional details regarding the proposal are available in Herbig’s full pre-meeting report.

    City Planner John Boynton and Director of Code and Planning Bub Fournier will both be present at the meeting to present and answer any questions.

    A complete pre-meeting report is available on the City’s website.

    City Manager Herbig concludes her report by sending good wishes to all Belfastians this Thanksgiving.

    “Good food that fills your table, good health as you work hard, and good times with family and friends. May you have all the best joys in life here in Belfast.

    “Happy Thanksgiving!”

    Erica Thoms can be reached at