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3/12/2014 2:00:00 PM
Nobleboro Planning Board Aims to Table Ordinance Vote
By Dominik Lobkowicz

By Dominik Lobkowicz

The Nobleboro Planning Board will recommend tabling a vote on a new property maintenance ordinance at town meeting March 15 to allow for further revisions and discussion, according to Chair Jacob Oliver.

The ordinance's purpose is "to set a minimum standard for the maintenance of the grounds of property in order to protect public health, public safety, property values, and to prevent nuisance conditions," according to the most recent draft.

Nobleboro Selectman Harold
Nobleboro Selectman Harold "Bud" Lewis (center), flanked by planning board Chair Jacob Oliver (left) and Selectman Chair Dick Spear, speaks about a proposed property maintenance ordinance. The planning board plans to recommend tabling a vote on the ordinance at town meeting until more revisions and discussions can occur, according to Oliver. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
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Oliver said some items in the ordinance remain to be corrected and discussed. He is asking the public to bring items they would like to see changed to the board, and hopes the ordinance will be voted on in June.

According to Selectman Harold "Bud" Lewis, the planning board went to work on the draft ordinance at the selectboard's request after several citizens brought the selectmen issues from around the town.

"They've come to us saying, 'What can you do about this?'" Lewis said at a public hearing on the ordinance March 6. "Without some kind of ordinance, without some kind of property maintenance ordinance, we can't do anything about it."

Lewis described one property with issues the ordinance is hoped to address:

"This stuff is dumped within ten feet of the road: vehicles, trailers, a couch dumped on a trailer that's had the wheels taken off; really egregious things," he said.

The draft ordinance would require property to be kept free of "unsafe or unsanitary conditions" including household trash, junk, discarded plumbing, scrap metal, rags, batteries, scrap lumber, unused and inoperable appliances, discarded furniture, or more than two junked or unserviceable vehicles, among others.

Safe and sanitary items the owner intends to use but are deemed to be a public nuisance could remain on the property, but would be required to be screened by objects such as embankments, buildings, or other installations. The ordinance includes a lengthy, statutory definition for public nuisances.

"The whole reason we're doing this is to protect neighbors, property values, things like that," Oliver said.

According to Stanley Waltz, the town's code enforcement officer, if the ordinance is enacted, nothing covered by the ordinance would be grandfathered.

Lewis echoed Waltz: "It's a condition, so as long as the condition exists and the ordinance is on the books, it applies."

Once the ordinance is approved and in effect, Waltz said he will try to let property owners know of a violation and give them time to address it before they are given an official notice of violation.

"People are going to get a chance before they get a notice," he said.

According to the draft ordinance, violators would have 30 days after they were served with a notice to correct the violation (a maximum of 7 days for a health or safety violation) and could face a daily penalty of $100 to $2500 if not corrected within the time limit.

The violator also has the opportunity to appeal the code enforcement officer's decision to the board of selectmen.

The ordinance is not aimed at taking away property rights, and will not be used to address things like grass cutting or wood piles, Waltz said.

The most recent draft of the ordinance is available here.

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