SUMNER – Selectmen fine-tuned proposed ordinances Tuesday night during a public hearing after townspeople debated wording and phrases in the local laws that, if approved at town meeting, would control sex businesses, dogs and political signs.

But a few also asked, why does Sumner need these?

While Sumner has not had an adult-only business move in, or one that has even shown interest in opening in town, Selectman Tom Standard pointed to a time when West Paris was faced with a sex business that wanted to open up shop on Route 26.

“Are we wise to be proactive or not?” Standard asked.

One resident questioned whether the adult-only business ordinance contained a value judgment. “We’re making an assumption that a sexually oriented business is immoral,” Mary Ann Haxton said. “It has different conditions than other businesses.”

In response, Standard quoted the top paragraph of the ordinance, under “Findings,” “The citizens of the town of Sumner believe that sexually-oriented businesses, because of their very nature, have negative secondary effects on surrounding areas.” He continued by reading that these types of venues decrease the value of properties and facilitate illicit and undesirable activities.

He added, “I want to be able to shut them down if they put girly pictures on their neon signs on Route 219.” The proposed ordinance would control the location and manner of operation, but not prohibit these businesses or concern itself with what goes on inside.

Another citizen questioned why the town needed an ordinance regulating political signs on town right-of-ways.

Standard responded that it was because people don’t take down political signs. And Selectman Cliff McNeil said sometimes the signs can be dangerous to drivers if they obstruct views.

There has not been a specific citizen concern that precipitated the ordinance, McNeil said, although Selectman Mark Silber said that on the corner of Routes 140 and 219, a sign, or signs, did once block drivers’ vision.

Ed Hinshaw said that he thought a state law might already regulate political signs, such as requiring a name and date be written on them and restricting how long they can stand by roadsides.

In response, McNeil said, “Let’s put [the ordinance] on hold and see if the state law supersedes it.”

The dog ordinance was proposed after neighbors were squabbling over noisy dogs, selectmen said.

Silber said, “The reason we originally proposed the ordinance was because ours was very old and unenforceable.”

He said selectmen have spent the past year-and-a-half dealing with dog problems, and the ordinance would apply a universal law to dog-related situations.

Bob Runes asked that the selectmen include a provision that would allow the animal control officer to give a warning to any dog owner whose dog became too noisy before he or she was taken to court or fined.

Fire Chief Bob Stewart mentioned the town might need a cat ordinance.

Standard said, “If you think we need a cat ordinance, we would be glad to consider it.”

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