Originally Posted Online: Dec. 05, 2012, 7:40 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 05, 2012, 11:25 pm
Moline considers ordinance to deal with 'chronic nuisance' properties
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By Dawn Neuses, firstname.lastname@example.org
MOLINE — Repeated police calls to any house can cause headaches for neighbors.
The Moline City Council on Tuesday will consider an ordinance to help address "chronic nuisance" and "aggravated chronic nuisance" properties.
"It is another tool for us to help provide cleaner and safer neighborhoods. I do not feel it is something we will constantly use, but when the need arises it will be a valuable tool to have," said Brad Hauman, Moline's neighborhood improvement officer.
According to the proposed ordinance, a "chronic nuisance" property is one on which three or more separate "events" occur within a year. Those "events" could include criminal offenses, building code violations, an overgrown vegetation citation that was not addressed, and other nuisances such as graffiti or littering.
An "aggravated chronic nuisance property" is one on which two or more separate criminal offenses or events occur within a year, including sexual abuse, kidnapping and murder.
The proposed ordinance provides that Mr. Hauman would be notified when a property has repeated nuisance activity. He would review police and/or inspection reports and, in writing, tell the property owner to respond within 10 days with a proposed course of action to take care of the problems.
If it is a rental property, the city may notify the occupant, too.
The city would postpone legal proceedings for 10 to 30 days if the property owner agrees to take action. If the nuisance activity continues or the property owner takes no action, the city will take the case to an administrative hearing officer with the Municipal Code Enforcement System (MUNICES).
If MUNICES determines the property is a chronic nuisance property, or aggravated chronic nuisance property, it can issue an order and prohibit use or occupancy of the home, apartment or business for 30-180 days, according to the proposed ordinance.
MUNICES can fine the owner, and the city also may charge a fine of no less than $250 for the ordinance violation. The property owner also will pay all city costs associated with abating the nuisance.
Mr. Hauman said the goal is to work with the property owner to address a repeated nuisance issue and not take cases to MUNICES.
"I always prefer to handle things that way," he said. "The city is not looking to shut down every property police are called to."
Ald. Ted Ronk, 4th Ward, asked the ordinance be drafted after he received a phone call from a resident upset because police were repeatedly called to a neighbor's home. The police told the women they could do nothing to stop the issue from reoccurring because there is no city code addressing habitual nuisance properties, he said.
"The whole purpose of the ordinance is to help promote peace and tranquility in neighborhoods, or anywhere we have problems. This ordinance is designed to make Moline a better place to live," Ald. Ronk said.
"The city needs legal means to deal with chronic nuisance properties and have some legal recourse in the court to remedy the situation," he added.
Aggravated chronic nuisance: Two or more separate incidents of the following criminal offenses listed below in a year: first-degree murder; kidnapping; possession of explosives or incendiary devices; offenses involving deadly weapons; mob action, possession, manufacture or delivery of controlled substances; sexual abuse; possession, cultivation, manufacture or delivery of cannabis; sale, delivery, or possession of drug paraphernalia.
Chronic nuisance: Three or more separate incidents of the following criminal or other offenses listed below in a year: disorderly conduct; gambling; assault or battery or related offense; public indecency; prostitution; criminal damage to property; illegal consumption or possession of alcohol; first-degree murder; kidnapping; possession of explosives or incendiary devices; offenses involving deadly weapons; mob action, possession, manufacture or delivery of controlled substances; sexual abuse; possession, cultivation, manufacture or delivery of cannabis; sale, delivery, or possession of drug paraphernalia. Also included are violations of other city ordinances pertaining to weeds, graffiti, litter and building codes.