News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 24, 2018
Emergency contact data highlights rental ordinance

by Monique Labbe

Just two weeks before town meeting, Castine selectmen held a public hearing to address the final draft of a rental property ordinance on May 21. The ordinance will be voted on at town meeting June 2.

The ordinance covers two pieces regarding rental properties in town: an emergency contact list of current renters, and a list of safety guidelines for owners of rental properties, including working smoke detectors, fire exits, etc.

“It’s very much a safety ordinance,” said Town Manager Jimmy Goodson.

Selectman Peter Vogel, who also serves on the Castine Fire Department, said he has been on several calls where no one on the department knew who the contact of the residence was. The town has a list of property owners, he said, but those people could live as far away as California. The proposed ordinance would help solve that issue, requiring updated contact information for the people living in or managing the property.

“It’s a necessity for the fire department, as far as I’m concerned,” said Vogel.

There is no fee to fill out the emergency contact form, said Goodson. The form needs to be filed with the town by August 15, otherwise a $25 penalty will be enforced.

The annual rental listing form lists rental types including a single family residence, two-family residence, mobile home, accessory dwelling unit and single rooms. Housing arrangements exempt from the ordinance are hotels, motels, inns, group homes, hospitals and on-campus residential facilities, as well as several others. Selectman Colin Powell noted that these exemptions are because the owners of those types of properties file for various licenses annually and the contact information is readily available.

One thing included in previous drafts of the ordinance but not included in the most recent is a disorderly house section. Previously, the ordinance addressed response to issues about noise complaints and other disorderly actions by tenants renting various rental properties. Goodson noted that those issues would be better addressed by the noise complaint section of the zoning ordinance, and felt this ordinance would better serve the safety issues he and the board of selectmen were trying to address.

“I feel like we have achieved at least the safety aspect of what we’re going for here,” said Goodson.

Town meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 2, at Emerson Hall.