City Council Approves Permitting for Tree-stands and Passes Disruptive Property Ordinance

By Jarod Farn-Guillette

 

•Council Approves Disruptive Property Ordinance

Council passed a long-awaited disruptive property ordinance that gives the police department and other city officials teeth when dealing with noise complaints in the future. With the general idea of preserving the characteristics that make Calais an attractive city for current, and possibly new, residents, city council decided to tackle disorderly dwellings that are subject to repeat complaints by neighbors. This ordinance, with the goals of “protect[ing] the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the City of Calais by eliminating the proliferation of properties harboring occupants who disturb the peace and tranquility of their neighborhoods.” 

The issue arose from repeated complaints against tenant properties housing rowdy residents that were the subject of frequent police visits for excessively noisy behavior and late-hours gatherings that caused nearby persons distress. Lacking the legal power to effectively deal with the issue, the city drafted a new and additional regulation to curtail the unwelcome and anti-social activities in such properties. This new ordinance allows the police to “cut back warnings” and start the process of enforcement immediately and it clearly defines what a “disruptive activity” entails. Describing such un-neighborly activities as “Situations created, originating, or conducting within a building or within the boundaries of the property on which a building is located by the owner, owner's employee, owner's representatives, occupants, tenants, or customers thereof, or the visitors...which would unreasonably disturb the community, neighborhood, or ordinary individual normal sensitivities at or beyond the property line...” These situations cover the gamut of what one might expect Calais' finest to be called to respond to: loud music, noisy gatherings, loud noise (think revving snow-mobile engines at 3:00 am), fighting or pretty much anything imaginable that would happen within ear-shot of a sleeping resident trying to rest up before another day's work. 

When questioned as to whether the ordinance only applies to rental properties, it was clarified that this is enforceable for any residential property in Calais. This ordinance starts the clock fast. Upon receiving either a complaint or at the officer's own discretion, a warning, then within 24 hours, if the owner or residents continue their actions, the second will be forthcoming. Upon five warnings the property is then deemed a “disruptive property” by the Chief of Police, and the owner is subject to a remediation process that includes a Fire and Safety Inspection, a meeting with the Chief of Police, and provide documentation of all dwelling units, floor plans, site descriptions, other items for the Code Enforcement Officer, names of tenants, lease agreements and other documents. An arduous amount of paper work to prepare, to then be put on notice and enter into a “remediation agreement” with the city. If the owner fails to keep their end of the agreement and violates the social-bargain again, the city will begin strict enforcement, along with levying heavy fines, starting at $500 to $1000 per offense. Residents that forget their lessons or manners should be warned. If the larger social benefit of minding your manners doesn't entice quiet, then perhaps your wallet will. From now on, decibels equal dollars. 

Council Allows Trail-Cams and Tree-stands for Hunting on City Property

After successful lobbying by local hunters, which included a logical argument for the added safety benefits of using tree-stands in bow-hunting, council approved their permitting for hunting on city property. With a bit of initial confusion over the implementation, local hunters clarified the process by which a first-come-first serve basis is the standard for declaring a hunting spot. Mayor Howard voiced his objection to the motion on the basis that he didn't want the city dealing with “crying over who has what area, what stand yesterday to today...I don't want the city to be bogged down...” with hunter disputes over who has what territory to hunt on city property. To which the hunter offered a situation where he had requested a permit to place a stand in another city, to find out their earlier bird got the deer, via the tree-stand. He just went to a different spot. Councilor Sherrard also chimed in with, “People aren't clamoring to put up tree-stands on city property.” The council talked a bit, and it passed with Howard stating the issue had been “beaten to death.” Hunters wishing to place tree-stands on city property are advised to request a permit at city hall.