ROCKLAND, Maine — The city is threatening court action if a woman who has repeatedly been warned to stop feeding seagulls fails to cease her activity.
Code Enforcement Officer John Root said last week that he has received new nuisance complaints from multiple neighbors around Camden Street Terrace concerning the feeding of seagulls. Neighbors have complained about the birds creating a nuisance because of considerable droppings covering their homes and properties.
“Since receiving these complaints, we reviewed the situation and have determined that a nuisance is being created by the active feeding of seagulls,” Root stated in his weekly report that is sent to the city council.
On Tuesday, he said when he inspected the neighborhood the most recent time there were 30 to 40 birds on the roof of Susie Gray’s home. He said the nearest neighbor’s vehicle was covered with bird droppings.
The code officer asked the city attorney to send a letter requesting that Gray immediately cease feeding the seagulls.
“We hope the property owner will comply; however, if the practice continues, after we have provided notice, we will have no alternative than to pursue this matter in court in order to provide relief for the neighbors,” Root said in his statement.
The code officer said Tuesday that court action is a last resort but that Gray has failed to adhere to both a previous written notice and multiple verbal requests.
City Attorney Kevin Beal said Tuesday that the letter was going out in the mail Tuesday.
The complaints prompted the city council to approve an ordinance — that took effect July 11 — prohibiting feeding wildlife, including birds, if it results in the “accumulation of droppings, feces, feathers, or otherwise constitutes a private or public nuisance.”
In early August, the code officer sent a letter to Gray, saying he had witnessed her feeding the seagulls and that she was to stop or face fines of up to $2,500 per day.
After the written warning was sent to her, she contacted the city and said she wanted to appeal the code officer’s position with the Rockland Zoning Board of Appeals. The city attorney said Gray was given an appeal form and the city council voted to waive the $150 appeal filing fee. Beal said the fee is imposed to cover the city’s costs of publishing notices to inform the public and neighbors in land-use matters.
Despite the city’s actions, Beal said Gray never filed an appeal.
Gray said Tuesday that she only tosses out a piece or two of bread and that she cannot help it if seagulls congregate on her house. She acknowledged there were probably 100 birds on her roof Monday night.
But, Gray said, that is because it is winter and they are looking for food. She noted she had fed them for years with no complaints.