FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — The City Council approved stiffer penalties for properties designated as "nuisances" at its meeting Monday.
The ordinance defined nuisance properties as locations that have two or more criminal activities or four ordinance violations within six months.
The criminal activities include drug and alcohol charges, battery and domestic battery, public indecency and violent crimes.
Alderman Josh Frawley proposed removing the ordinance violations from the list, in an effort to separate civil and criminal issues.
But the amendment failed in a 5-4 vote, with aldermen Frawley, Linda Arnold, Roger Lowry and Scott Greenwald outvoted. The council then approved the ordinance in a 7-2 vote, with Alderwoman Bonnie Crossley absent.
Being designated a nuisance property gives the police the right to demand a plan of action to improve the situation from the owner and/or tenant. If it is a rental property, the landlord may pursue eviction.
If that is not effective, the city can pursue court remedies, up to closing and securing the property against any occupancy for 30 days to a year.
Some residents spoke in favor of the ordinance, stating they hope it stops problems like littering and frequent police visits.
"All the efforts you spend encouraging growth and development in this community... if you don't back it up protecting people who want to live in comfort, safety and harmony, without this ordinance that's not going to happen," said resident Hugh Hatfield.
The council also approved changing the compensation for noncontracted employees at the Police Department to be the equivalent to raises of the union employees.
Some employees spoke before the vote, stating they felt it was important that they be paid the same as contracted employees.
"It's disheartening to feel that our work isn't as appreciated as theirs," said police dispatcher Eric Medsen. "I don't think we should be punished simply because we haven't unionized yet."
It passed 8-1 with Warner voting no.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 239-2501.