A homeowner in Maine is being forced to pay a whopping sum as the result of a property maintenance dispute, potentially leading to widespread change in her local government that could make it even harder on local property owners.
According to the Kennebac Journal and Morning Sentinel, April Carrigan, a property owner in the town of Madison, ME, has been ordered to pay $15,000 for violating the town’s property maintenance ordinance.
The hefty fine was issued after a year-long dispute in Skowhegan District Court over Carrigan’s property maintenance habits. Carrigan’s property at 68 Old Point Ave. is quite eclectic, featuring a detached garage, playground equipment, farm animals, and a giant pig named “Oinker.”
Carrigan’s boyfriend, George Hand, has begun cleaning up the yard as per the town’s order. However, he believes that his girlfriend is being unfairly targeted by the town following a petty dispute with a neighbor over water and sewer lines.
“Everything we have here is for a purpose,” Hand said. “We’re trying to get off the grid as much as possible.”
Once Carrigan’s neighbor brought her concerns to the public, Madison residents were asked to vote on a stricter property maintenance ordinance that would expedite such legal battles. This new ordinance would eliminate the need for Madison to sue property owners, instead allowing them to charge homeowners directly for maintenance violations.
“Hopefully this ordinance will expedite the court process, because we’ll be asking the court to allow the town to actually hire a service to come and remove the debris, unlicensed vehicles or that sort of thing,” said Madison Town Manager Tim Curtis. “It will also allow us to give that bill to the property owners.”
Unfortunately, Carrigan’s situation is not uncommon. The regulations surrounding property maintenance are so complex that many people rely on professional property management services to avoid unintentionally breaking the law.
The Kennebac Journal and Morning Sentinel is also reporting on the ongoing meetings between Madison residents to vote on these impending changes to the property maintenance ordinance.
On Monday night, residents debated whether or not homeowners should be allowed to own farm animals in downtown areas. Currently, the town is considering designating a “village area” in which owning the animals would be legal, so long as they do not negatively impact the quality of life for neighbors.
“The fact that certain rules can be different based on where you live may be difficult for people to understand, but I think people have to realize that having farm animals on your property when you live downtown can adversely affect your neighbor,” Curtis said at the meeting.
While Carrigan’s supporters and detractors continue to argue over the new property maintenance ordinance, many residents of the quaint town are hopeful that a fair and peaceful resolution will soon be reached.
“When it comes to farm animals, someone might say they want farm animals and another person might say they don’t,” said resident Michael Whalen. “It’s two different wills. It’s important though that we sit and talk about it.”