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Storms snowball into complaints
RUMFORD -- With already more snow than all of last winter, a good part of the Board of Selectmen's meeting Thursday involved snowplowing and shoveling issues.
"It was a very difficult period," noted Town Manager Carlo Puiia. "We had two nights of storms, and then on that third night, we had that big rainstorm, if you remember," he said. "And if anybody had it in their driveway and didn't clean it up, you know what happens -- it turns to ice."
Complicating things was that this occurred around Christmas and New Year's. "These men were working late hours and long hours during the holidays and they deserve a break so they can remain alert, so we wanted them to have a holiday," he said.
"We're doing the best we can. It's never going to be perfect. This is a perennial problem. We all seem to forget that between April and the following December how much snow we get," said Puiia.
He said Rumford has one sidewalk plow and miles of sidewalks, "so your area might not immediately be cleaned. They're doing the best they can."
Starting at midnight during the first of next week, the town crew will start catching up with snow removal, Puiia said.
Don Boucher, owner of a residence at 65 Essex Ave., said a business has been plowing snow onto his property.
He said Rumford has laws preventing property and business owners from plowing or shoveling snow onto another's property or in the roadway and sidewalks. He said police are not enforcing the law and suggested that the board have police begin doing so, starting with his issues. Boucher also said he wants a larger fine on businesses found guilty of breaking the law by plowing snow onto a neighbor's property.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina, who asked Puiia to have police Chief Stacy Carter address Boucher's complaints, urged residents and business owners to think of their neighbors when removing snow from yards and business lots.
Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said she drove around town earlier Thursday to familiarize herself with areas where people are violating the town's snow ordinance and saw plenty of evidence. She said people are plowing so much snow onto sidewalks that the town's lone sidewalk plow cannot handle it, forcing people to walk on the streets in traffic.
"You're doing yourself and your neighbor a disservice every time you do this and to all of us who are not going to want to use the sidewalks when we need to use them, so shame on you if you're somebody that's doing it," she said.
Resident Kevin Saisi that the town needs to make sure sidewalks are cleared more effectively so people don't have to walk in the road.
Puiia asked that people bear with this, noting that residents can help the fire department by shoveling out around nearby hydrants.
He said snow removal and plowing priorities will again be discussed with Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell at the board's next meeting.
In other business, Puiia asked selectmen to consider six potential ordinances or amendments to possibly bring before voters at town meeting in June.
These include regulations to govern use of town parks and recreation facilities, signs, all-terrain vehicles, and garbage and recycling collection and garbage disposal.
Puiia gave selectmen ordinances from several towns that pertain to each topic and asked them to take them home to take home to read. The board will decide whether to use the material to retrofit the ordinances or amendments to Rumford.
Talking about an ordinance to regulate use of town parks and recreation, Puiia recalled that dogs are not allowed on a field at the Hosmer Field Complex due to debris that was left behind.
He said he would like to revisit the ordinance at a future board meeting with Parks Commission board members.
"It would give them an opportunity to work with us," he said. "And we may not get it on this year's vote. It may take us longer than that, but when I saw this, I thought it was a good idea because it gives you some structure on facilities."
Puiia shared an ordinance from another town regulating political signs. He said selectmen might want to consider incorporating some of that language into Rumford's sign ordinance.
He said the town might want to consider an all-terrain vehicle ordinance, which a lot of towns do. "We don't have one but we should be working on one, so this may get the wheels turning, if you will."
Puiia said another town's ordinance regulating garbage and recycling also had good points to consider. "The good thing about it is, it informs people what they can and cannot put on the curb and it also tells the citizens what they're responsible for, if they have debris if they tear down an old shed."
He said he's also been researching hawkers and peddlers licensing and fireworks regulations. He said Gorham only allows people ages 21 and older to use fireworks, requires such use to be 150 feet from other structures and requires people who want to use them to get a permit for each use.