AUGUSTA — A simplified proposal aimed at preventing year-round yard sales by limiting their duration to three days, and to no more than six yard sales a year, goes to city councilors Thursday.

The proposal is less burdensome than a previous proposal that would have required anyone having a yard sale to acquire a permit from the city to do so.

The new proposed ordinance, according to Matt Nazar, development director, doesn’t require permits and would be enforced only when a complaint about a yard sale leads to an investigation that determines a rules violation occurred.

“It’s very basic. It limits the number you can have per year, and their duration, so you wouldn’t be able to have a continuous yard sale,” Nazar said.

The effort to regulate yard sales comes at the request of Ward 4 Councilor Anna Blodgett, who said she proposed to regulate them because she saw yard sales in Augusta that don’t end, and where homeowners leave their lawns covered with items for sale 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Councilors discussed a more complex proposal to regulate yard sales in July, but they didn’t take action at the time. Instead, they directed the city staff to draft a proposed yard sale ordinance and take it back to councilors for them to consider. Some councilors expressed interest in regulating them, while others said doing so would be too much regulation.

Nazar said the city has no regulations on yard or garage sales, so there is no specific limit on their duration or frequency.

At this year’s Manchester Town Meeting, residents approved a yard sale ordinance that restricts the sales to a maximum of three consecutive days and to no more than six sales at any single property, or by any resident, per year.

The Augusta proposal is one of many potentially controversial agenda items up for council discussion at the council’s 6:30 p.m. meeting Thursday in the council chamber at Augusta City Center.

Zoning ordinance changes recommended by the Planning Board to clarify city zoning rules about group homes, homeless shelters and religious institutions will go back to the council Thursday as well.

The proposed changes were prompted by the concerns of some city leaders about potential new uses of the St. Mark’s Church property, which includes the former St. Mark’s Home and a parish hall that is home to organizations providing free food, clothing and other essentials to people in need.

Councilors also are scheduled to discuss possible amendments to the Blasting Ordinance, which could reduce the allowable size of blasts of rock for quarry operations in Augusta.

For several years, there have been ongoing problems between McGee Construction, owner of an active pit off West River Road and visible from across the Kennebec River, where there are periodic blasts to free up rock for use in construction projects, and residents of the nearby Grandview neighborhood.

City Manager William Bridgeo said some councilors asked the city to look into reducing the size of allowable blasts at quarries and pits in the city. He said blasts that occur now in the McGee-owned pit are generally well below the allowable current blast levels, but residents still have expressed concern about the intensity of the blasts and the disruption to their enjoyment of their homes.

Nazar, in a memo to councilors, said he’s attended at least 40 blasts in the neighborhood over the last 10 years, but recently was inside a neighborhood resident’s home while a blast took place in the pit.

“The experience is dramatically different inside than it is outside,” Nazar said. “The blast was startling and alarming when I was inside for the last blast. When I’ve been outside, it’s not particularly concerning at all — a bit of a rumble and some mild vibration. The exact reason for this difference is not known to me, but if the foundations are on the ledge, that might explain the difference.”

Bridgeo said any changes to the blasting ordinance would require at least one public hearing to be held to give the public an opportunity to comment on any proposed changes.

Councilors also are scheduled to:

• Hear an update on the Property Maintenance Ordinance, approved by councilors in April, and enforcement of it so far;

• Discuss a Complete Streets policy; and

• Discuss an amendment to the Historic District Ordinance about the qualifications of members of the new Augusta Historic District Review Board.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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