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Keene mulls disorderly residences ordinance

Union Leader Correspondent

October 05. 2017 11:53PM

KEENE — A proposed disorderly residences ordinance is being considered by the Municipal Services, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee.

The committee took up the proposed ordinance at the request of Mayor Kendall Lane. Lane had suggested it at a recent City Council meeting at which the Keene Pumpkin Festival was discussed. Many said at the meeting that despite the two-year hiatus of the festival, issues with disorderly Keene State College students at off-campus housing was an issue for some neighborhoods.

The proposed ordinance would fine a property owner if police responded to a residence multiple times.

“It aims really at only a few properties that are problematic,” City Councilor Mitchell Greenwald said Wednesday.

Greenwald does not serve on the committee, but he is a landlord in Keene.

He said the ordinance, which was considered a decade ago by councilors but went nowhere, could have unintended consequences.

Greenwald provided the example of a homeowner going away for the weekend and leaving a relative at the home to house-sit. Over the weekend, neighbors could complain about the relative to police, causing two or three police responses, and the homeowner could then face a fine upon returning, Greenwald said.

“It means well, but it doesn’t flow well constitutionally,” he said.

He added he recently spoke to a city landlord who had called police to a property up to 10 times recently for drug activity. Landlords are required to provide evidence of criminal activity through police reports to evict, he said. It raises a question, he said: How does a landlord deal with criminal activity on their properties if they are fined when they call police to investigate?

The committee tabled the issue instead of sending it to the full council this week, and plans to take up the proposed ordinance again on Wednesday. If it is recommended to the full council, there will be a public hearing, Greenwald said.

Local and County Government Keene

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