PARIS — Voters at a special town meeting Monday overwhelmingly supported enacting a new property maintenance ordinance.

The law will set a “minimum standard for the maintenance of the grounds and buildings of a property in order to protect public health, public safety and to prevent nuisance conditions.”

It is the first such ordinance in Paris.

The vote came following a public hearing attended by about 40 residents at the Paris Fire Station. Led by moderator Dian Rainey, residents  quickly voted on five articles. Four passed with overwhelming support. Only the one dealing with adult-use marijuana businesses failed by a vote of 18-22.

The property maintenance ordinance addresses conditions of properties, such as grounds maintenance standards, which can include junkyards and automobile graveyards, household trash, human waste, tires, household debris, scrap metal and discarded metal. The policy also covers dilapidated and collapsing structures on a homeowner’s property, such as sheds, garages and barns.

Any fill delivered to a property must be clear of non-natural materials.

Opponents to the measure complained that the government should not be telling homeowners what they can do with their property.

But others countered that safety was paramount, and that the condition of some properties can have a negative effect on surrounding property values.

Code Enforcement Officer Kingston Brown said the ordinance would merely be another “tool in my toolbox” to use if negotiations failed to resolve an issue with the few problem property owners.

Supporters of the policy pointed to a home on Alpine Street as one of those problem properties. Even many of those opposed to the ordinance conceded that property needed to be cleaned up.

Voters also approved the following articles:

• Allowing portable structures for ice fishing on Halls Pond, but they cannot stay overnight.

• Reallocating $13,456.29 intended for radios to be spent on security cameras for town buildings. A grant received from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation after June’s town meeting will cover the cost of the radios.

• Authorizing town officials to transfer ownership of the clock and bell in the Paris Baptist Church to a nonprofit group that oversees the church. The clock and bell were gifts to the town in the 19th century.

During the Board of Selectmen meeting that followed the special town meeting, the board accepted eight bids for foreclosed properties, some whose owners had not paid taxes in eight years.

“It bothers me that we have to do this,” Chairman Rusty Brackett said.

The board did make an exception for Chris McFarlane, who owns property on Paris Hill Road. Admitting it was his fault, he asked the board for forgiveness, saying his daughter and son-in-law and grandchild had been living at the home. He said he was out of work, had recently spent time in the hospital and had never been in this position before.

“I’m not one who easily asks for help,” he said. “Everything just got away from me.”

He said he could pay the entire amount of back taxes and penalties, more than $6,000, on Tuesday morning.

Supporting his request were Steve and Jake Allen, who were the high bidders on the property. The Allens asked the board to reject their bid and allow McFarlane a day to pay the amount he owed.

The board agreed, unanimously passing a motion to give him 24 hours to pay the bill.


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