Property maintenance code won't be on Belmont ballot

BELMONT — A proposed warrant article that would have asked voters to adopt the provisions of the International Property Maintenance Code will not appear as an article on this year's town ballot.

Chair Peter Harris said that Monday night after reading a memorandum from town Code Enforcement Officer Steve Paquin telling him the adoption of the IPMC may be premature and more regulatory than is necessary in Belmont.

"At this time I would be willing to step back and amend the IPMC and bring it back next year reflecting the sections I feel are needed to enforce issues pertaining to life and safety," wrote Paquin.

The creation of some kind of property code maintenance regulations stemmed from a Selectboard conversation late last summer when members noticed there was some garbage and trash issues in the village.

Selectman Jon Pike — who is the board's representative to the Planning Board — said last night the problems stemmed from a few village area tenants but when the board asked how they could address the problem, they learned that they couldn't unless it posed a "distinct health issue." The only other option, said Pike, was to pass some kind of property maintenance code.

"We wanted a way to clean up the garbage," he said, adding the selectmen don't necessarily want the right to mandate but to have an official way to notify property owners of any problems.

"We asked the question but the ordinance as proposed is stronger that what we meant," Pike said.

In the fall, selectmen tasked the Planning Department to develop a code and they brought for the 2009 International Property Maintenance Code that has been adopted by New Hampshire as its standard and is in place in a number of communities including Laconia.

Feedback from town residents to selectmen, Planning Board members, and Paquin indicated that many felt the code as proposed was inappropriate or too much for Belmont.

Harris said he agreed with Pike's recommendation. He also said that because of the limited amount of time given to the Belmont Planning Department to evaluate the proposal, the Planning Board hasn't have enough time to thoroughly examine what would be best for Belmont.

Board members Mike Leclair and Rick Seglin agreed and the vote to table was unanimous.

All agreed that there are portions of the IMPC that would work in Belmont but said the code seemed more designed for urban areas and that parts of it would not work.

The Planning Board will be developing some kind of code in 2014 with a goal of presenting something to the voters in 2015. Harris said he expects there will be focus groups and community input in addition to that of the board.