WATERVILLE — City councilors rejected a vacant property ordinance Tuesday night after the city manager voiced concerns with the ordinance, which would have required property owners to register vacant buildings.

The vacant buildings ordinance was rejected by a vote of 4—3. Councilors Fred Stubbert, Nathaniel White and Sydney Mayhew voted in favor of the ordinance, while councilors Rosemary Winslow, John O’Donnell, Dana Bushee and Karen Rancourt-Thomas voted against it.

Earlier this month councilors gave unanimous approval to the ordinance, but after a motion was made to give it final approval Tuesday night, City Manager Michael Roy said he was concerned that the city had limited resources to enforce the new ordinance, which would have required owners of vacant buildings to register them with the city, including paying a $500 registration fee and submitting a maintenance plan for their upkeep.

Roy also asked the council to take more time to consider the ordinance, which he said could duplicate the efforts of a new state law that went into effect in September requiring the registration of foreclosed properties.

Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, who voted in support of the ordinance, said he was unconcerned that the ordinance, which would have gone into effect immediately, would cause too heavy a workload for the city’s code enforcement officer.

“It’s another measure to put in his tool box,” Mayhew said. “(Code enforcement officer) Garth Collins did admit it would be a good ordinance if he had the assistance. Right now we are just going into the budget season, so I’m not sure that would be possible, but it’s a good start.”

Councilor Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, who expressed support for the ordinance during discussion but ultimately voted against it, said the ordinance would be a reason for the city to fund an additional code enforcement position in next year’s city budget. The city’s code enforcement department is currently made up of just one full-time employee, Collins. Plans to add a second code enforcement position earlier this year were cut.

“It’s a reason for us to get (Collins) the help he needs,” Bushee said of the proposed ordinance. “You can’t expect businesses to move into the city if we can’t back them up and make sure their neighborhoods are taken care of.”

Councilors have been considering the vacant buildings ordinance, intended to minimize blight, since last spring. Chairman of the council Fred Stubbert, D-Ward 1, said it is likely to come up again although the ordinance is not currently on any upcoming agendas.

In other business Tuesday night, councilors voted unanimously to approve spending $1,500 from the South End Capital Improvement Account for renovations at the Green Street Park, including the design of a custom skateboard park by the American Ramp Company, a business out of Joplin, Missouri.

They also unanimously approved spending $15,115 from the city’s capital reserve fund to repair the granite steps and brickwork at the main entrance to City Hall.

The steps and surrounding brickwork are becoming worn because of heavy foot traffic and pose a safety risk, according to Roy. “It’s particularly dangerous in the winter time,” Stubbert said.

Finally, councilors also approved transferring $25,000 from the sale of Engine 470, a historic steam locomotive recently sold by the city, from the general fund to the capital improvement reserve account.

The locomotive, built in 1924, is the largest remaining steam locomotive in New England and the last to operate on the Maine Central Railroad. The city began looking to sell the locomotive three years ago and earlier this month finalized its sale to the New England Steam Corp. in Winterport.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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