By Joe Bachman
Residential areas in Wisconsin Rapids that see multiple nuisance activities will soon fall under a chronic nuisance ordinance that was approved on Tuesday night by the Finance and Property Committee.
“Nuisance activities contribute to the general decay of an affected neighborhood and negatively impacts law-abiding residents in these neighborhoods, as well as the economic values of all properties in the vicinity,” according to the proposed ordinance.
The criteria for what is considered to be a chronic nuisance activity follows a guideline of three incidents of a nuisance activity at a residence or area resulting in enforcement actions within a six month period. This also includes three complaints to Planning and Economic Development resulting in enforcement actions within a six month period, as well as only one enforcement action resulting from the manufacturing or delivery of a controlled substance.
An enforcement action is defined as the issuance of a citation, written warning, summons and complaint, or arrest. A nuisance activity is defined as a multitude of behaviors considered illegal, from the possession or sale of a controlled substance, to disorderly conduct, property damage and criminal trespassing.
This ordinance also covers building, plumbing, and electrical violations, fire safety violations, noise violations, and public nuisance violations.
The nuisance activity will not apply to cases of sexual assault, stalking or domestic abuse, which require immediate law enforcement assistance.
“It’s another tool for building inspectors and ordinance control officers, and our police department to try to get a handle on properties or businesses that have continual violations of criminal laws,” said City Attorney Sue Schill. “It could be municipal ordinance violations, health laws, or animal violations.”
There are currently chronic nuisance ordinances in place in Stevens Point, Wausau, Green Bay, Madison, and many other Wisconsin cities.
“The city is going to track each of those types of violations or calls to a specific address or premises, and a certain number of those will be called nuisance activities occurring within a six month period,” said Schill. “The gameplan is not to fine people more, or write more citations, it’s really to bring the property owner in and try to work through why the premises has so many calls to it — what types of activities are happening there.”
Once a chronic nuisance activity is identified, the city will follow up with the land owner and work out an abatement action. If actions are not taken to curtail the nuisance by land or property owners, there may be fines placed on them based on administrative costs, as well as police or emergency staff costs as defined in Wisconsin Statute 62.11 and 66.0628.
The chronic nuisance ordinance will be discussed further at the next common council meeting on May 17.