AUGUSTA — City councilors on Thursday will take a first look at a proposed Property Maintenance Ordinance that would require property owners, and in some cases their tenants, to prevent their buildings and land from falling into disrepair or becoming overgrown with weeds.

The proposed draft ordinance recommended by a council subcommittee would institute sweeping regulations requiring the owners of buildings and land in the city to maintain their property in a clean, safe and sanitary manner. It also would require building occupants, including apartment tenants, to maintain the units and areas they occupy and control to those same standards.

Councilors meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in a nonvoting informational meeting in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

The ordinance was written at least in part in response to residents’ complaints over the last couple of years about neighboring properties being allowed to deteriorate or accumulate trash and other debris with little recourse available to the complainants or the city.

Matt Nazar, the city’s development director, said the meetings of the subcommittee that drafted the ordinance were open to the public, but no members of the public attended. He said there will be opportunities for public comment on the proposed ordinance as councilors consider it.

The draft ordinance includes the following provisions:

• Sanitation: “Exterior property and premises shall be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition. The occupant shall keep that part of the exterior property that such occupant occupies or controls in a clean and sanitary condition.”

• Weeds: “Premises and exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds or plant growth in excess of 10 inches. Noxious weeds shall be prohibited. Weeds shall be defined as all grasses, annual plants and vegetation, other than trees or shrubs provided; however, this term shall not include cultivated flowers and gardens.”

• Motor vehicles: “Except as provided in other regulations, no inoperative or unlicensed motor vehicle shall be parked, kept or stored on any premises, and no vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair, or in the process of being stripped or dismantled. Painting of vehicles is prohibited unless conducted inside an approved spray booth. Exception: A vehicle of any type is permitted to undergo major overhaul, including body work, provided that such work is performed inside a structure or similarly enclosed area designed and approved for such purposes.”

• Defacement of property: “No person shall willfully or wantonly damage, mutilate or deface any exterior surface of any structure or building on any private or public property by placing thereon any marking, carving or graffiti. It shall be the responsibility of the owner to restore said surface to an approved state of maintenance and repair.”

• Protective treatment: “Exterior surfaces including but not limited to doors, door and window frames, cornices, porches, trim, balconies, decks and fences shall be maintained in good condition. Exterior wood surfaces, other than decay-resistant woods, shall be protected from the elements and decay by painting or other protective covering or treatment. Peeling, flaking and chipped paint shall be eliminated and surfaces repainted.”

The proposed Property Maintenance Ordinance is posted on the city’s website.

Ward 4 Councilor Anna Blodgett, who was chairwoman of the council subcommittee that drafted the document, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Councilors on Thursday also are scheduled to discuss enacting a 180-day moratorium on the demolition of any buildings deemed historically significant within the proposed new historic district which would be created by another ordinance under consideration by councilors.

The proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance, which according to City Manager William Bridgeo is currently under review by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, would create a new historic district encompassing much of the city’s west side, including the area surrounding Winthrop and Crosby Streets and the downtown Water Street area.

At their last meeting, some councilors expressed concern that buildings in the district could be demolished before the new ordinance, which has faced opposition from some residents and councilors, could be enacted. Nazar said councilors expressed concern that a property at 18 Green St., which city assessing records indicate is owned by Motivational Services, is one of them.

Nazar said a demolition permit has been sought from the city for 18 Green St., and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission reviewed the proposal and determined the building is considered historically significant — a designation that requires, under already existing city rules, a 90-day delay before the structure may be demolished. Nazar said that 90-day period will expire in January, and if the moratorium is not in place, a demolition permit would be issued for the property then.

The proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance would ban the demolition of buildings considered to be “contributing” to the historic district unless the property owner “can demonstrate that it cannot be renovated or reconstructed so as to earn an economic return on its value in its present location as determined by a qualified real estate appraiser.”

Councilors also are scheduled to:

• Discuss issuing a “community covenant,” in which city officials would sign a statement committing the city to provide support to members of the U.S. military, veterans and their families;

• Discuss disposing of several parcels of land and structures owned by the city;

• Discuss restorative justice; and

• Hear a report on an audit of city and school financial recordkeeping and procedures.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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