AUGUSTA — City officials say a bedbug infestation at two Water Street boardinghouses prompted them to propose an emergency ordinance to give city staff the ability to take stronger enforcement action to prevent the spread of the insidious biting insects.

City Manager William Bridgeo said the landlord of 382 and 384 Water St., River City Realty owner Larry Fleury, has been cooperative and the city is working with him and tenants to rid the buildings, tenants and their belongings of bedbugs.

A tenant of an apartment at 382 Water St., Al Sugden, has scabs covering his arms and legs that he said are from bedbug bites. He said he went to the hospital because of the bites and was given some salve to put on them.

The Navy veteran said his mattress was infested with them and, even though his small apartment was sprayed with chemicals to kill the bugs and cleaned, he fears they’ll come back.

“They sprayed the whole building,” he said. “I think the bedbugs will come back. My neighbor, my friend, moved out. He couldn’t take it anymore.”

Bridgeo said a worker who was in one of the two buildings reported last week seeing an infestation of bedbugs to Rob Overton, a city code enforcement officer. Overton entered the shared common areas of the two boardinghouses, such as hallways and shared bathrooms, and one apartment into which he was allowed by a tenant, and saw signs of the bugs. He returned with an official of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to inspect the buildings and determined both were infested with bedbugs.

“They were throughout the buildings,” Bridgeo said of the two boardinghouses which, between them, house about 20 tenants..

He said the city’s codes do not address bedbugs specifically.

He had Stephen Langsdorf of the Maine CDC and Matt Nazar, development director, draft a proposed bedbug ordinance that he proposes city councilors consider adopting Thursday night as an emergency provision. That would require six votes, not just the usual majority, and would allow the ordinance to take effect Friday.

Bridgeo noted the proposal, as an emergency measure, would be good for only 60 days. During those 60 days, the city probably would work to write a permanent version, a process that would include public hearings at which landlords and others could comment and point out potential flaws in the proposal.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

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Twitter: kedwardskj