Presque Isle seeks public input on proposed ordinances for camping and flags

2 weeks ago

The Presque Isle City Council will convene public hearings on proposed ordinances to address camping and loitering and displaying flags within city limits.

Meeting in Presque Isle Wednesday night, the council voted to hold two public hearings, one later this month and another at the regular July 10 city council meeting, on each issue.  

Increased camping has affected Riverside Park, and residents have taken to social media to express discomfort with people loitering at parks and other public places. Last month officials decided not to raise the pride flag, or any flag, at City Hall. Some members of the public decried the decision; Presque Isle leaders maintained they wanted the city’s place of business to be welcoming to all. The hearings seek residents’ input to shape the proposed ordinances.

Increased loitering has also become a problem in Bangor, which may expand its ban on the practice because of growing safety concerns.

An ordinance would establish guidelines to deal with people who are camping or loitering in Presque Isle, City Manager Tyler Brown said. It would also allow for the assistance of police in removing those in violation of the ordinance.

The rule would sunset in four years and would apply to all public spaces that have signs posted informing the public, according to the draft ordinance.

“No person or persons shall set, maintain, or organize any camp or temporary place of abode in any tent, wagon, van, automobile, trailer (not intended for camping use), house trailer or any combination of, on public and private property (without landowner consent), including public parking areas, without the written consent of Presque Isle City Council, Presque Isle Code Enforcement or the Presque Isle City Manager,” the draft states.

The proposal also says that day camping, tailgating or sunbathing is not allowed on city property unless it’s during an event, and the event organizer has obtained permission for such activity. 

Parks, the splash pad and outdoor recreation areas are for people actively using the facilities as intended, and loitering will not be permitted, according to the draft.

The second ordinance aims to regulate proclamations, flag displays, keys to the city and ceremonies. The draft has been through legal assessment, Brown said.

“At no time will the City of Presque Isle display flags deemed inappropriate or

offensive or those supporting discrimination, prejudice, or the oppression of others,” the draft states.

Among its provisions, the proposed ordinance includes:

— Proclamations will be limited to state and federally recognized holidays. The council can make an exception with a two-thirds vote.

— The city will follow U.S. and Maine guidelines on displaying flags, including the U.S., state, city and POW/MIA flags. Exceptions may be addressed when Presque Isle-based organizations submit requests.

— The city manager will approve or deny flag requests according to a number of guidelines, including that flags must pertain to a positive interest and be non-political. 

In other business, the city recognized Kim Smith, resource development and public information officer, for 10 years of service. 

During her tenure, Smith has garnered $9.9 million in grant funds for the city, Brown said.

The total is $9,987,419, and several other grants are pending, Smith said after the meeting. That total doesn’t include donations and capital campaigns, she said.

Council Vice Chair Jeff Willette announced several upcoming events, including the Presque Isle Fire Department open house on Saturday, June 8, and the first Rocking on Riverside concert for the summer, slated Thursday, June 13, at Riverside Park with Star City Syndicate.