WEST GARDINER — Voters set time limits at the annual Town Meeting on Saturday on how much a dog can bark before becoming a nuisance. About 150 people showed up for Saturday’s meeting at the West Gardiner Fire Station.

Victor Goodwin Sr., chairman of the Board of Selectmen, told residents the town took a dog owner to court last year when neighbors complained, but lost the case.

“We had (an ordinance) in place but it doesn’t quite work, we found that out when we went to court,” Goodwin said.

He said there were two problems: The complaint had to be signed and notarized and there was no time limit on how much the dog could bark.

Selectmen asked residents at the meeting to amend the barking dog ordinance to say it’s a violation for a dog to bark, yelp, howl or cause any other disturbance continuously for 20 minutes or intermittently for an hour. Dogs are prohibited from barking at all between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Goodwin said before action is taken on a problem dog, a written warning would be hand delivered by the town’s constable or animal control officer telling the owner the disturbance must cease or the dog owner could be fined $150 and pay all fines and attorney fees if the case goes to court.

He said the owner the city lost to in court had six dogs barking for hours. “The guy had to pay $2,000 for his lawyer, so I guess you could say he won the war, but lost the battle.”

Also Saturday, an article to raise money to participate in the Gardiner Ambulance Service was amended to $31,000 instead of the $18,000 originally asked for.

“We found out just last week that there is $17,600 of uncollected debt,” Goodwin said. “We have this debt to pay off. We have name and amounts and will collect this debt.”

He said the contract with Gardiner Ambulance Service says the town is liable when patients they transport from West Gardiner refuse to pay their bills.

“They try to collect this three times, they send out letters,” Goodwin said. “Then they send (the bill) to us. After three times, we’re liable.”

In other business:

• A request by the Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed for a $5,000 for the operation of a diver assisted suction harvester, which would help remove milfoil, failed by one vote.

• A request for $20,000 for care of cemeteries passed after being reduced by $5,000.

• A $20,000 request for the new town garage account passed after it was amended to allow the money to be taken from surplus instead of excise tax.

• Voters agreed to allow the treasurer/tax collector post held by Sue Pierce to become a three-year term, and combined the posts of excise tax collector and town clerk, both roles held by Heidi Peckham.

• Voters agreed to spend $5,000 for a new copier/printer/scanner/fax machine, but said no to buying a generator for the Town Office, which would have cost upwards of $7,000.

 

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]


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