Solar array, comprehensive plan approved

Thomaston voters approve leasing town land for crematory venture; oppose selling parcels for housing projects

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 9:00pm

    THOMASTON — While Thomaston’s town meeting was pushed this year from June to September, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, voters nonetheless tended to town business, narrowly approving a lease for a privately built crematorium, and denying the sale of Thomaston Green land to Avesta Housing and Coastal Opportunities, for two separate housing projects.

    Instead of gathering for an in-person town meeting, 597 Thomaston citizens made their preferences known on the 31-article town warrant at the polls, which were open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    By a slim margin, voters approved, 298 to 289, to enter a long-term land lease at the Thomaston Cemetery to the private company Mid-coast Crematory (Hall Funeral Home) to build and operate a crematorium there.

    The lease amount was not specified on the warrant.

    Voters also approved, voting 296 to 272, a one-year contract with Community Concepts Finance Corporation of $65,000 for an economic development director.

    And, voters approved, voting  372 to 206, borrowing $1.2 million to finance an municipal solar array, and to pursue state and federal grants for the project.

    Thomaston said, in its warrant, that municipal electric accounts use between 725,000 and 750,000 kWh of electricity per year, with pollution control using almost 75 percent of that. The town’s annual electric cost is approximately $150,000. The solar array is to generate $80,000 in credits to reduce the electric bills.

    “This savings, plus the savings from switching the streetlights to LED bulbs (completed in June 2020) will provide funds to repay the $1.2 million loan without raising property taxes or increasing sewer fees,” the warrant article explanation said. “Once the loan is paid off, the town will save an estimated $100,000 per year in electric costs.”

    Voters approved the new comprehensive plan at a vote of 386 to 135.

    Thomaston voters said now, however, at a vote of 344 to 233, to warrant article 7, which asked the town to sell some Thomaston Green land to Avesta Housing for the purpose of creating affordable housing for citizens age 55 and older.

    They also voted no on Article 8, 327 to 258, to sell Thomaston Green land to Coastal Opportunities for building a home for developmentally challenged residents.

    And, the town voted in favor of its proposed town budget, and all the associated articles.

    See attached PDF for complete vote tallies, and the town warrant, as it appeared before the voters.