AUGUSTA — The city will draft a proposed yard sale ordinance for city councilors to consider in an effort to put an end to long-term, ongoing yard sales by limiting their duration and frequency.

Ward 4 City Councilor Anna Blodgett raised the issue, saying she was prompted to do so by seeing yard sales that don’t end, and where the homeowners leave their lawns covered with stuff for sale, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for weeks, months or even, in a few cases, years.

Matt Nazar, development director, said the city has nothing on the books that regulates yard or garage sales.

“There are no regulations right now regarding yard or garage sales in the city of Augusta, which means you can have a yard sale, effectively, 365 days a year if you like,” Nazar said. “There have been some that have been longer than that.”

Councilors discussed the issue Thursday but took no formal action.

City Manager William Bridgeo said city staff would work on a proposed ordinance, with Blodgett as the sponsor, and bring it back to councilors for consideration.

Some councilors expressed interest in regulating yard sales, while others said doing so would punish the many people who have legitimate, short-duration yard sales just to crack down on a handful of perennial long-term yard sales.

“I get the point of the ordinance, but to get two or three people, sometimes we’re punishing 400 people to get three people to do what we want them to do,” said At-Large Councilor Jeffrey Bilodeau. “If I have to take time off work to get a permit to have a lawn sale that, to me, is punishment. You have to do something you didn’t have to do before. There is too much regulation and people need to have more freedom, as far as I’m concerned.”

Camille DeSoto, who was born as and previously known as Carol Aft, said yard sales are one of the few ways poor people living in Augusta can raise money quickly and easily, and restricting them would be a slap in the face of some poor people for whom having yard sales is a necessity. She urged councilors to not restrict them.

Nazar said the city staff doesn’t track the number of complaints about ongoing yard sales, because the city doesn’t regulate them; but he estimated the city gets around six such complaints in a typical year.

Bridgeo said the complaint topics include never-ending yard sales, as well as complaints about traffic and people parking on lawns, both for long-term and normal, short-term yard sales.

At-Large Councilor Dale McCormick said she’d heard from a constituent who expressed concern about perennial yard sales, noting sometimes “things start living among the stuff,” that’s left out for sale.

Blodgett said the ordinance isn’t a punishment.

“It’s not a punishment to people just having a regular yard sale for a couple or three days, but this is the only way we can regulate offenders doing 24/7 yard sales,” she said.

Blodgett said numerous other municipalities, including Bangor and South Portland, regulate yard sales. She said they typically charge $10 to $15 for permits.

She said permits should be required to have a yard sale, but said fees don’t need to be charged for them.

Mayor David Rollins said if the city is going to issue permits for yard sales, it should charge a fee to cover the cost of city staff processing the permits and tracking the number of yard sales residents have.

Nazar said municipalities typically restrict yard sales to three days in duration, and to two, three or four times a year.

At this year’s Manchester Town Meeting, residents there approved a yard sale ordinance that restricts such sales to running a maximum of three consecutive days during one week, and to no more than six sales at any single property, or by any resident, per year. Leon Strout, chairman of the Manchester Planning Board, said the ordinance was meant to give the town the authority to prevent problems such as yard sales that take place nearly year-round and can be a nuisance to neighbors. Residents are required to notify the town when they are having a yard sale.

Blodgett also said the ordinance also should regulate where signs for yard sales are placed, banning them on other people’s property, and from utility poles, on which most utility companies already ban the placement of signs.

At-Large Councilor Cecil Munson suggested adding language to the city’s Property Maintenance Ordinance to restrict yard sales to three days in duration.

Nazar said he could look into that.

Blodgett said the ordinance would be simple and common sense. She said there is no rush and the ordinance, if approved, probably wouldn’t take effect this summer.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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