Public hearing scheduled for Nov. 5 on Pelletier Island issue
AGATHA, Maine — Town officials have scheduled a public hearing on Nov. 5 for residents to hear the concerns of property owners of Pelletier Island who filed a petition in September to secede from the town. The island property owners issued a press release in mid-September indicating they were using a little know state law (Title 30-A, Section 2171) to seek a public hearing to discuss seceding from the town.
Organizers indicated that the action was being taken as much to force town officials into discussions over making the Island Road a public way.
There are about 30 year-round residents and more than double that number of summer dwellers who currently share the costs of repairing and maintaining the road that travels 2.5 miles around the perimeter of the island located on Long Lake. The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway.
Island resident Ryan D. Pelletier said Friday that members of the Pelletier Island Road Association would make a presentation at the public hearing and that he hoped this meeting would help the association work things out with the town.
“The town adopted its comprehensive plan in the late 1990’s and included a goal of acquiring the Island Road as a municipal town way,” Marc Nadeau, who is president of the Pelletier Island Road Association, said in the press release issued last month. “No one I have spoken to wants to secede, but after two decades, our options are very limited unless the town wants to get serious about road ownership and ongoing maintenance,”
According to the release, the association currently assesses each property owner $280 per year to pay for expenses to maintain the Island Road and the causeway.
The petition to secede raised many questions about who would become responsible for municipal services, taxes, and classification of the territory — whether residents would seek to join the state’s Unorganized Territory, create its own community, or seek to become part of the neighboring community of Frenchville or Madawaska, though no formal discussions have occurred with either of those towns.
The public hearing date was set after the signatures on the petition were validated by town officials, according to St. Agatha Town Manager Aubrie Michaud.
Pelletier said the road association members plan to address three major points during the public hearing.
“We will identify the problems that have led us to this point of asking for secession,” he said. “We will identify potential solutions that could be considered [instead of] secession, and we will provide information as to what the impact will be to the town and the island if secession does occur.”
The main cause of the effort, according to Pelletier, is the continued increase in costs to maintain the road with the “limited funds” the association receives compared to the taxes the island property owners are required to pay the town each year and what services they receive for those taxes.
Pelletier said he plans to include figures in his presentation to plead the association’s case regarding the island property owners’ costs compared to the other taxpayers in town.
“It’s quite astounding,” said Pelletier.
Michaud made it clear, however, that per statue “no decisions will be made at the public hearing.”
“The town will consider the requests and meet at a later date to discuss cooperations with the island and other options that are in the best interest of all taxpayers,” she said.
The public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in St Agatha.