It took seven amendments, but on Feb. 11 Fort Wayne City Council finally passed a new ordinance that will hopefully reduce the number of owner-occupied homes where prohibited conduct occurs.
It’s a new tool intended to help residents enjoy their neighborhood without negative interference by disorderly neighbors. The bill was co-sponsored by Tom Didier, R-3rd; Tom Freistroffer, R-at large; and Geoff Paddock, D-5th.
It was held two weeks ago after being amended three times because too many details remained undecided.
The fourth and fifth amendments had to do with rewording the definition of prohibited conduct under the ordinance. “Our ordinance is very open-ended to any violation,” Paul Ensley, R-1st, said. Several times he used as an example a person with an overgrown flower bed as someone he wouldn’t want to see be fined under the new ordinance.
City attorney Malak Heiney agreed. “I think he’s right. We made it broad so as not to exclude anything.”
The definition was amended to exclude resisting law enforcement, disorderly conduct and criminal recklessness. Other specific items on the list of prohibited conduct include gambling, prostitution, unreasonable noise, maintaining a common nuisance, gang activity, and drug dealing or manufacturing.
Complaints are submitted to the Fort Wayne Police Department, which will investigate and issue a notice to abate to the owner/occupant.
The ordinance will not apply when contact with law enforcement is made by or on behalf of a victim or potential victim of abuse or a crime, or in an emergency. It also does not apply if the owners/occupants have a physical or mental impairment that prevents them from controlling their conduct.
The sixth amendment made a change to the minimum fine from $100 to $250 per day for each day the owners/occupants don’t try to fix the problem.
Finally, council added a section establishing a review of statistics compiled by the Police Department to determine how the ordinance is working. “I think you’ve got to at least give this thing a year,” Didier said.
If it proves not to be effective, the ordinance will sunset in three years.
Goats in the city a baaaaad idea
Council held a rezoning request because it could have opened the door for the property owners to have goats, pigs, cows, sheep or other farm animals on their property.
The request was to rezone 16 acres from RP/planned residential to AR/low intensity residential at 3800 E. Paulding Road. The owner wants to raise crops on the land. But nothing in the ordinance would prevent the property owner from introducing livestock onto the acreage.
“The farming piece I’m all for,” said Councilwoman Sharon Tucker, D-6th, in whose district the property sits. But she and Glynn Hines, D-at large, were both firmly against allowing farm animals on the property.
The property owners still have a chance to plant their garden, however. If they supply a written commitment not to have animals, council will reconsider the rezoning request. The ordinance was held until March 10.
Changes to Legacy Fund
Council approved a resolution that set forth a few changes to the Legacy Fund including:
• All proposals for Legacy funding must be placed on the web page dedicated to Legacy information at least four weeks before any formal meeting where the project may be discussed.
• Organizations requesting loans from the fund will be viewed more favorably than those requesting grants.
• To ensure a more diverse Legacy Joint Funding Committee, changes were made to how the members are appointed.
Council also approved a non-binding resolution that the Legacy Fund balance not drop below $30 million unless extraordinary circumstances occur.