LIVERMORE FALLS — The chairman of the Board of Selectmen directed the town’s code enforcement officer Monday to have the Planning Board put together an ordinance that would put guidelines on what people can have in their yards.
Town Manager Kristal Flagg told selectmen she has had several complaints on garbage, mattresses and tires among other items piled in front of people’s yards.
The state has an ordinance on junkyards, and there are guidelines on health issues. But there are no ordinances dealing with items in people’s yards, she said.
Flagg said she talked to Code Enforcement Officer James Butler Jr. about the issue.
There are some guidelines on restrictions, and the town could choose the parts it wants to include in its ordinance, she said. She said the ordinance could cover certain areas of the town, including downtown.
She said that the town of Old Orchard Beach has such an ordinance. Butler is the code officer in that town, too. It also restricts the height grass can be in a yard, but Flagg didn’t think that would be something would fit Livermore Falls.
Butler feels it is a long, drawn-out process to take someone to court over yard-maintenance issues without having an ordinance, she said. If there was an ordinance, she said, police could enforce violations of the rules.
“You can be as restrictive as you want,” Flagg said.
There is an international maintenance code that has several parts to it, and the town could choose what it wants to put in the ordinance and enforce, Butler said. One ordinance, he said, allows only one unregistered vehicle in a yard, which is stricter than the state rules.
There is nothing in Livermore Falls that governs garbage, he said.
The state junkyard ordinance covers vehicles and car parts, he said.
“It’s awful hard to get an ordinance,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Bill Demaray said of the town’s history of not wanting ordinances.
People complain that they pay taxes and should be able to do what they want with their property, Flagg said. On the other hand, neighbors who have to smell it don’t want to put up with it.
Demaray said when he is working in his yard he usually puts stuff in his garage. It may be a couple of weeks before he gets to take it to the transfer station, which is only open three days a week.
It has to be a happy medium, he and Flagg said.
You have to be careful that it doesn’t restrict property owners who are trying to improve their property, Demaray said.
He wishes the town had an ordinance that addresses yard sales and people putting up signs on utility poles and never taking them down, he said.
But you also cannot be too restrictive, he added.
Butler said the Planning Board is working on a sign ordinance.
It’s past time the town has an ordinance on property maintenance, Selectman Louise Chabot said. She would like to see an ordinance that provides guidelines from the Jay line to Shuy Corner at the intersection of Routes 17 and 133 and Foundry Road, she said.
Butler said he has been working on a “hit list” he, Flagg and highway foreman Bill Nichols put together on junkyard compliance. About 40 percent of the cases have voluntarily complied with the town’s request, he said.
Butler was asked to draft an ordinance that would go to public hearing and then to voters.