FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne City Council is looking at ways to make the city’s neighborhoods safer by introducing an ordinance that, if passed, would curb illegal behavior taking place in residential areas by putting the homeowners’ wallets on the line.
The proposed ordinance, sponsored by Council President Tom Didier (R-District 3) would encourage people to call the police and report a residential property in their neighborhood that is subject to frequent “prohibited conduct”. That includes activities like gambling, prostitution, unreasonable noise and discharge of firearms, gang activity and more.
If a police investigation finds that criminal activity is taking place on the property, it is deemed a Disorderly House, which is considered a public nuisance. If police are repeatedly called to a house, the homeowner could be fined for not correcting the issue.
“It goes through the traffic division,” said Didier. “They can be fined and the fines can be hefty. Again, I don’t believe they’re fined the first time but if it’s something that’s chronic that’s happening then they will be fined.”
The homeowners must be notified that their property has been deemed a Disorderly House by mail, in person, or with written notice posted at the house. The fine can be anywhere from $250 to $2,500 with each day they are found in violation being a separate, fine-able offense. Rental properties would be exempt because they are covered under a different ordinance previously passed.
The ordinance is similar to one passed by council two years ago targeting criminal activity around commercial spaces. Didier said that ordinance has been successful to a point.
“It’s curbed the issues on some of these hotels in my particular area. Have we fined anybody? No. We haven’t actually had to fine anybody. Now, has it gone to other places? I think it has.”
He expects the residential ordinance would have a similar effect, although he does not expect any ordinance to completely erase illegal activity from the city’s neighborhoods. Didier said he wants to try and curb it as much as possible, and that it will only affect those engaging in illegal activity. The legislation will need to be discussed in council but could be passed before the end of the month.