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River Hills deals with chronic nuisance properties

Village Board approves new ordinance to handle recurring issues

July 21, 2013

River Hills — The River Hills Police Department will now have enforcement authority over residents whose properties are deemed a chronic nuisance, village officials decided last week.

Village Attorney William Dineen said though there are few issues with properties in the village, the chief of police asked him to draft an ordinance that gives the police department the authority to deal with chronic nuisance residences. Dineen drafted a similar ordinance for Shorewood.

According to the ordinance, any property that generates three or more citations by the police department, building inspector or health department for "nuisance activities" in one year authorizes the chief of police to issue a notice requiring the property owner to come up with a plan to curb the problems.

If they do not comply with the "nuisance abatement plan," the property owner can be issued a citation, according to the ordinance. The citation amount is based on an assessment that determines how much it cost the village for continuous visits to the property.

There are 18 items listed in the ordinance that would be considered "nuisance activity." This includes an act of harassment, disorderly conduct, battery, lewd behavior, violation of village codes, and alcohol violations. The new ordinance was modeled after similar ordinances in Green Bay and Milwaukee, with responsibility vetted by the chief of police.

"It doesn't require police do it," Dineen said. "It's discretionary, but if they do it they have to do it in an even-handed manner."

Board members questioned whether or not the ordinance deals with people not upkeeping their home properly, citing a residence in the village that has sparked complaints from neighbors. Dineen said the property in question is in foreclosure and the owners have filed for bankruptcy.

"If the property is in foreclosure it complicates things," Dineen said.

In order to tackle a property of this nature, it would first have to be determined that the property is a chronic nuisance and the upkeep of a home may not fall under that definition.

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