WHITEFIELD — Town voters clamped down on “permanent yard sales” in town on Tuesday by enacting a new junkyard ordinance.

The ordinance, which includes restrictions on yard sales, passed by a 662-437 vote.

Selectman Bill McKeen said the ordinance was crafted to reduce the risk of potential drop of property values in town because of nearby “junky yards” — lawns perpetually filled with possessions.

“It affects property values if you have a lot of them,” he said. “It’s been a constant problem for many years.”

McKeen said the town did not have its own junkyard ordinance before the implementation of this language, instead relying on state language for junkyards. The town’s ordinance is “pretty much (a) cut and paste” of the state’s policy, according to McKeen, but it defines time restrictions for “lawn sales.”

He said people could exploit a loophole in the state’s ordinance and run permanent “yard sales,” instead of operating state-licensed junkyards, allowing them to have messy properties.

“We have some situations here where if you tried to enforce (state ordinance on a property as if) it was a junkyard and (the property owner says) it’s a yard sale,” McKeen said. “It’s frustrating when you see situations like that and you can’t do anything about it.”

The ordinance limits lawn sales to “no more than one per month” and “no longer than 3 days,” and requires all materials be removed from the lawn in between sales.

Barn, garage and any other fully enclosed sales are not considered lawn sales, according to the ordinance.

The penalty for violation of the ordinance is a fine of $2,500 a day, with a maximum fine of $25,000. The penalties can be appealed to the town’s Board of Appeals.

COOPERS MILLS DAM

Whitefield voters also passed, by a 620-592 vote, an ordinance laying out policy for patrons of a new recreational area at the site of the demolished Coopers Mills Dam.

The 200-year old Coopers Mills Dam was ordered demolished this summer to improve fish passage and provide the town with a more reliable source of water to fight fires.

Selectman Tony Marple said the dam site will have trails and an informational kiosk with historical information about the site.

He was surprised that the ordinance passed by such a thin margin, he said.

“In Coopers Mills, there was resistance to the removal of the dam,” Marple said. “Whether, somehow, people associated the two, … I haven’t heard any resistance (to the new policy).”

The policy prohibits visiting the dam site during “non-daylight hours.” It also prohibits climbing on the stonework, camping, smoking, outdoor fires and the “use” of alcohol.

Pets — as long as they are on leashes and cleaned up after — are allowed at the site.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department will enforce the ordinances. Violations may results in a $50 fine.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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