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Committee agrees on revised nuisance ordinance

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Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh explains new revisions to the proposed nuisance property ordinance at the Legal Committee on Tuesday evening. (Alison Penn Photo)

Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh and the city of Roswell’s Legal Committee assessed revised versions of the proposed nuisance property ordinance.

The nuisance property ordinance has been examined and dissected over the last year by various city committees. The Roswell City Council held a special meeting on April 2 — where the council voted unanimously to send the item back to Legal Committee and retracted a public hearing.

City councilors Judy Stubbs, mayor pro tem and committee chair, Savino Sanchez, Barry Foster and George Peterson were present for the meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Sanchez left during the closed session as stated on the record by City Attorney Aaron Holloman.

After Mayor Kintigh shared revisions and the committee deliberated on the ordinance, Foster made the motion to send the ordinance on nuisance properties to full council on May 9, with a recommendation to authorize advertisement for a public hearing. Peterson seconded and the measure passed 3 to 0.

Prior to these revisions, a nuisance property would have been determined after three or more nuisance activities occurred on private property resulting in law enforcement response in a 12-month timeframe. With the new version, Kintigh explained the nuisance activities increased to four, instead of three, and the 12-month timeframe would remain the same. After four offenses, the city attorney would notify the property owner in writing to contact the city manager or city manager’s designees. 

After this, the city manager, or the city manager’s designee, and property owner would enter into an abatement plan to address issues on the premises. If no agreement was reached, property owners would be billed for the calls of service. The committee, attorney and mayor decided to change the language “meet with” to read that the property owner would “contact” in person and/or electronically the city manager or the city within 10 days of notice from the city.

Kintigh presented two versions of the nuisance ordinance and suggested the second version should go on to council. In the second version, Kintigh said the intent was to establish a “checks and balances” system as per concerns of the council from previous discussions. 

For some language changes, Kintigh said “chronic” was added back into the language because the “crux of the matter” is to deal with recurring and excessive calls of service at the same property. Kintigh said this version also used the verbiage of a “nuisance event,” defined by a specific point in time, as opposed to nuisance activity in the previous version. 

Kintigh also said two specific events would “trigger and invoke” the ordinance, where property owners could be charged for calls of service. First, a municipal or magistrate judge would grant an execution of a search warrant and the residents at a potential nuisance property must be found guilty by a court and cited for four offenses. 

As listed in the drafted ordinance, the nuisance events are pursuant to city codes and/or state statutes including battery, possession of drug paraphernalia, disorderly house, discharge of a firearm, negligent use of a firearm, litter and storage of an inoperative vehicle. Two other nuisance events would involve weeds and dangerous building or debris, where the same citation will only be counted once during a six-month period and “within a 48-hour time period” to be determined as a nuisance event. 

One of Kintigh’s key factors in the new version is that property owners would not be billed for excessive public safety calls, unless the governing body passes a resolution to approve the billing. He said it would require the concurrence of a judge first and then the governing body before being determined as a chronic nuisance, before the property owner would be billed for the service calls. He emphasized the determination of chronic nuisance does not come from city staff or administrators.

Another of Kintigh’s changes included extending the time period to a 48-hour slot, instead of a 24-hour period, where one event would qualify as triggering an event. He referenced some of the councilors’ concerns that property owners could hit three or more offenses in one day or another short time period. He added this change would not “pile” offenses onto property owners. Foster said he was in favor of 48 hours, since a warrant and an arrest could happen simultaneously. 

Kintigh also drew attention to a sunset provision, where the ordinance would expire Dec. 31, 2022, unless another ordinance was passed to keep it. 

“I actually — reading through this and after going through this, I think you’ve done something I didn’t think you could do,” Foster said to the mayor and Kintigh laughed in response. “I did not see us being able to get to something that I felt comfortable with, but this is definitely something I feel way more comfortable with than I had with any of the other prior versions that we’ve had.”

In other business, Foster and Stubbs voted 2-1, with the dissenting vote from Peterson, to recommended approval of the city’s fleet maintenance agreement with First Vehicle Services with an additional clause for modification to the city building that First Vehicle will be using. Peterson said he had some concerns about the language and Holloman said a list of those concerns would be prepared in time for Roswell City Council’s May meeting.

Prior to the vote, the committee went into closed session to discuss the second posting for the request for proposals for fleet management and maintenance services. Stubbs said neither votes were taken, nor were decisions made in the closed session. 

Five lease agreements at the Roswell International Air Center were approved and one for Daniels Welding Service was tabled by the committee for a request of additional information.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.