Tweaks proposed for Rumford laws

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RUMFORD — On Tuesday night at the first of two public hearings on proposed ordinances and/or town law revisions, selectmen learned that Rumford cannot impose more stringent residency requirements on convicted sex offenders than the state does.

Several other proposed tweaks deal with everything from cable franchise fees to placements of political and yard-sale signs.

The second public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 27, in Rumford Falls Auditorium.

Tuesday night’s hearing only drew town officials — Selectmen Brad Adley, Frank DiConzo and Jeff Sterling; Town Manager Carlo Puiia; appellate board member Kevin Saisi; and fire Chief Robert Chase. All but Adley and Sterling suggested revisions.

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Puiia, speaking on behalf of police Chief Stacy Carter, said that last year, Rumford voters enacted a new sex offender ordinance before Maine passed legislation limiting the authority of local ordinances.

Carter suggested that Puiia work with town lawyer Thomas Carey to propose an ordinance change restoring compliance with state law.

That law, under Title 30-A Municipalities and Counties, states that municipalities cannot adopt or enforce any ordinance or bylaw imposing restrictions or requirements on sex offenders but not on people who haven’t been convicted of a sex offense.

The law states that any ordinances adopted by municipalities about residency restrictions involving people convicted of Class A, B or C sex offenses against children not yet 14 years old may:

• Only restrict residence and not impose additional restrictions or requirements like registration and fees.

• Prohibit sex offenders from living within 750 feet of public or private elementary, middle or secondary schools, or any municipally-owned property where children are the primary users.

• Not restrict anyone who lived within the allotted distance prior to enactment of the amendment or ordinance.

• Not be premised on a person’s obligation to register pursuant to Maine law.

Rumford’s new ordinance makes sex offenders live 1,000 feet from licensed day-care centers, but only 500 feet away from schools, Puiia said.

Saisi proposed several tweaks. Among them, are to:

• Post all regular meeting agendas at least three days in advance of meetings.

• Require that all private requests for funds go through the initiated article process except in emergency or as allowed through the Use of Receipts ordinance in Chapt. 13, Section 2.

• Require all funds received from the cable franchise agreement and paid to the town to be disbursed by vote of selectmen for cable TV-related expenses only. Additionally, if there is a surplus at the end of a fiscal year, the money would not be dumped into the undesignated fund balance, but rather into a new Cable TV Franchise Fund.

• Add new criteria to the recall ordinance that would allow recalls if a selectperson uses their position to influence decisions from any municipal group, and not allow recalls should an elected official be absent due to doctor’s orders while recovering from one or more non-elective medical procedures for a potentially life-threatening condition.

• Give selectmen oversight of any single item purchases by the town manager that cost $2,000 or more.

• Require that any major capital improvements requested by the Board of Library Trustees be approved by residents on the annual election ballot.

Chief Chase suggested changing one ordinance that tasks him with enforcing national fire life-safety codes adopted by the town, but doesn’t give him authority to do so.

DiConzo wants modular and mobile homes added to the buildings that can be declared unoccupied and abandoned if they are not under construction or renovation for 120 continuous days or more to correct dereliction.

Additionally, he wants anyone who advertises charitable events to notify the town manager before hanging banners, and that all political and yard-sale signs must be displayed on their own stakes.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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