ROCKLAND, Maine — City councilors voiced support Monday night for an ordinance that would make it illegal to feed sea gulls to the point that it becomes a nuisance to neighbors because of fowl droppings.
And councilors agreed to reconsider whether to allow the Brass Compass restaurant to use a strip of city land next to a park named after two World War I veterans.
The sea gull ordinance is being developed by the code enforcement officer and city attorney. The woman who is at the center of the controversy and her neighbors both appeared before the council with opposing viewpoints on the proposed law.
“I can’t imagine how we can allow this go on,” said Mayor Brian Harden.
City Manager James Smith stressed that the city is not proposing to ban people from feeding birds or animals but to allow the city to take enforcement action when it becomes a significant nuisance.
Councilor William Clayton said he would like any proposed ordinance to cover both private and public properties. He said people who feed birds are not helping them but making them dependent on humans.
Code Officer John Root proposed the ordinance in response to complaints from residents on Camden Street Terrace about bird droppings on their properties from a woman’s feeding of sea gulls.
Councilor Eric Hebert questioned how the city would define when feeding the sea gulls becomes a problem. City Attorney Kevin Beal said there are standards for when an activity becomes a nuisance.
The ordinance is expected to be developed and considered for a preliminary vote at the council’s May 14 meeting.
The council also agreed to consider an item on the May 14 agenda to allow the Brass Compass restaurant to place tables and chairs on a 12-foot strip of city property. The council voted last month to reject the request.
Mayor Harden noted the city was considering doing work in the Winslow-Holbrook Park this summer and said that it may make sense to wait until it is known what will be done before approving the use of the park.
Brass Compass owner Lynn Archer said she would remove the tables and chairs whenever the city needed to do work.
Archer said she would be willing to pay more per table or to buy the strip if necessary.
She again stressed that outdoor seating is appreciated by people. Archer also noted that the city has not been consistent on the issue of whether there should be commercial use of property on memorial parks. She pointed out that a section of Ulmer Park is used for parking by Dunkin Donuts and that the Fishermen’s Memorial Pier is leased to commercial entities during the summer.