The Belleville City Council tabled changes to a controversial occupancy ordinance this week, but really the proposal just needs to be scrapped.
The city already requires new residents to register every occupant's name, birth date and relationship when they move in. The revision would require a new occupancy permit before anyone else could move in: "The only individuals authorized to reside in a dwelling unit shall be the individuals listed on the occupancy permit."
Does that mean a child can't have friends over for a slumber party, or a college student can't have his roommate home for Christmas break without risking a ticket and fine? What about a relative recuperating after surgery? The new ordinance doesn't explain.
It does state that newborns and adopted children would have to be added within a year. And if the child puts the home over the maximum occupancy? Families would either have to move out or add on to their home. Really, a family can't decide how much more room a 2-year-old needs?
Mayor Mark Eckert said the city could use its discretion if it gets an overcrowding complaint. That is a worse idea than the ordinance. Selectively applying this or any ordinance could get the city in serious legal trouble.
Eckert said the intent of the ordinance is "to make sure people are safe." Having all this information on file might make the Police Department's job easier in some criminal cases. However, the city shouldn't infringe on the rights of the 99 percent of law-abiding residents.
Eckert said, "We're not trying to govern everybody or who's sleeping with who." But intended or not, that would be the consequence of this ordinance. Scrap it.