WESTBROOK – Westbrook’s Planning Board has been given the task of coming up with a new ordinance that would govern yard sales.

The City Council Committee of the Whole voted on Monday to have the Planning Board look at adding a condition to the land use ordinance to make yard sales an accessory use to the property. The move would allow the code enforcement officer to regulate the yard sales held frequently enough that they may be considered a business.

According to Jerre Bryant, city administrator, adding an ordinance to govern yard sales is in response to concerns from residents in certain Westbrook neighborhoods, who say some people are operating ongoing sales on their properties that cause traffic congestion and litter.

The new rules would focus more on those running yard sales as a business, but it may also address the littering problem after a yard sale is complete and the owners do not take down yard sale signs and leave the rest of their items outside with a “free” sign posted next to it.

According to City Clerk Lynda Adams, Portland, Falmouth, Gorham and Windham don’t regulate yard sales, but Scarborough and South Portland each have adopted yard sale ordinances that allow each property two permits for yard sales, which cost $5 each, every six months and each sale can last no more than three days.

“The opinion is, it is a nightmare to police and they don’t feel it’s worth their time,” Adams said about the permit process.

Checking up on yard sales to make sure they are compliant with the potential ordinance would fall to the code enforcement officer.

Council President Brendan Rielly suggested adding language to the potential ordinance to define more specifically what qualifies as a yard sale and how often yard sales can take place

In other action, the City Council approved the first reading of an agreement with Time Warner Cable for fiber connectivity to the Public Safety Building at a cost of $9,000 per year. The service has been provided since 2004 at no cost to the city or the school, as it was funded through the e-rates program, which provides funding for electronic services used for educational purposes.

The contract was with the school department, which renegotiated it earlier this year and the Public Safety building connection was not included.

According to Bryant, the city was not informed of the renegotiation or that it had been taken off the contract until Time Warner Cable called looking for a new contract.

The funds will come out of the city’s Information Technology Budget if approved in second reading.

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