AUGUSTA — A proposed property maintenance ordinance would interfere with the longstanding practice of frugal Mainers keeping a parts car parked in their yard, a resident warned city councilors Thursday.

The proposal’s ban on boarding up windows in any buildings, Augusta resident Jarody also warned, could put vacant properties at risk of damage by squatters or animals, either of which would have easier access if windows can’t be boarded up.

Jarody, who uses only one name, said the ordinance’s changes, which include a ban on keeping any motor vehicles that haven’t been registered and inspected for one year within 150 feet of a public right of way unless they are in a garage or buffered from public view, would make it impossible to keep a spare car, for parts, in one’s yard in Augusta.

“Having a parts car is still quite necessary for a lot of people in Maine, especially for people between jobs or who don’t have a good-paying job,” Jarody said, noting that his father and his stepfather kept parts cars, from which parts can be taken to keep a registered, functioning car on the road on the cheap. “Many of my neighbors have an extra Subaru here and there. This ordinance, which targets the number of cars you can have, and the condition they are in, targets the people of Augusta who can’t afford better.”

Jarody, the only resident to speak during a public comment period Thursday about the ordinance proposal, also criticized its proposed ban on boarding up windows, saying boarding up windows can help prevent vacant buildings from being entered and damaged by trespassers.

And the ordinance’s requirement that occupied buildings remain connected to required utilities, such as water, and electricity, would affect solar power users, he said.


“The way I read the ordinance, it’d prevent people who wish to go off the grid, and allow the sun to power their homes,” from doing so, Jarody said. “This ordinance would make any self-sufficient house out of the code.”

The bans on boarding up windows or disconnecting from required utilities were added recently, following councilors’ latest discussions on the proposal March 24.

The city, according to Matt Nazar, development director, has discovered a number of occupied properties where the water has been turned off.

So councilors proposed an addition to the ordinance that would forbid building owners to shut off or remove utilities and services required by city codes from occupied buildings, except temporarily, if necessary, to do repairs or alterations.

It applies only to occupied buildings, so the owners of homes left unoccupied, such as “snowbirds” who go south for the winter, still could have utilities turned off in their homes while they are away, Nazar said.

The ordinance also requires building owners to keep their windows in good repair.


Owners of buildings that already have boarded up windows would have, if and when the ordinance is approved and takes effect, 30 days to come into compliance by fixing any boarded up windows. However, the ordinance notes owners of such buildings could comply by contacting the code enforcement office and submitting a reasonable plan and date by which their building would come into compliance.

The proposed new ordinance was reviewed by councilors during the first of two readings required for approval. The second reading, and final vote, could come as soon as the council’s next business meeting, currently scheduled for April 21.

Ward 1 Councilor Linda Conti said during the previous council discussion of the proposal that its language is the result of residents coming to the city with concerns there were too many “eyesores around town that need to be cleaned up. They’re discouraging people from coming to Augusta.”

However, some councilors and residents have said they think the ordinance goes too far and is an infringement on private property rights.

Councilors did not debate the ordinance Thursday.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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