BELLEVILLE — The City Council voted 13-3 on Tuesday to approve amendments to the city's existing occupancy permit requirements.
Residents in a dwelling must be identified on the permit by name, relationship and date of birth. The city requires residents to notify the city and update their permit with changes in occupancy.
Also, the code now clarifies that visitors do not have to be listed on the permit but it is up to the owner or tenant to prove that an individual is a visitor.
Aldermen discussed whether the requirements are constitutional, whether the wording is too vague, and how the city's Housing Department enforces the permit and occupancy allowance requirements.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult, Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden and Ward 7 Alderwoman Lillian Schneider voted "no."
Before the City Council vote, Ward 1 Alderman Ken Kinsella said the revisions simply clean up the language of the ordinance to clarify what information the city already requires of residents.
At least eight of 15 residents spoke for or against the permit changes during public participation at the City Council meeting. About 70 residents attended the meeting.
Resident Rose Wilson said areas such as the Franklin neighborhood benefited from requirements like occupancy permits. She asked that aldermen serve and protect all its residents by continuing to support such codes.
Wilson said she remembers when she lived near a home with two bedrooms meant for four people that had 20 occupants. At the time, gunshots were heard frequently in the area, and there were often car and home break-ins.
City officials have said the city's intent is to keep residents safe and prevent overcrowding.
Resident Joy Schreiber, a candidate for Belleville Township trustee, said she supported housing inspections. Occupancy allowance and permit checks, however, violate privacy and are illegal searches.
Schreiber said the number of people living in a home does not necessarily mean the people will be bad neighbors. She has had neighbors compliant with occupancy codes who were troublesome and neighbors who might have violated occupancy allowances but were respectful, good residents.
City officials removed the most controversial aspect of the initial proposal, which is that residents have up to a year to report the birth or adoption of a child and comply in any case where the addition causes the household to violate the maximum occupancy allowance.
Hayden asked city staff how such cases will be handled under the approved ordinance. Will residents have to report the birth or adoption of a child immediately?
Mayor Mark Eckert said he will recommend the Public Health and Housing Committee consider establishing an appeals process to address any issues that arise from enforcement.
If a household has a child, but there are no reports of any problems, the city likely will not even know of the occupancy change, Eckert said.
Police Chief William Clay said that city staff do not go to residents' homes to check on occupancy permits unless they're responding to a specific complaint of an occupancy violation.
If the city gets a call that there are too many people living in an dwelling or there are residents at a home that are not listed on the permit, then the city sends a code enforcement officer with the Housing Department to look into the matter, Clay said.
In other news, the City Council:
* Tabled a development agreement with Kurt Artinger, who wants to move his company, Replacement Services LLC, to the site of the former downtown YMCA building at 15 N. First St.
City leaders are considering giving $210,000 in tax increment financing funds for the roof and mold, and $20,000 in sales tax abatement for building materials.
Eckert said Artinger asked for the issue to be tabled so his attorney and the city attorney could continue to work on details of the agreement.
Eckert said Artinger was unsure whether he wanted to proceed with the redevelopment project after a city committee meeting in which aldermen ask for the city to have a longer term for first right of refusal in case the building changes hands.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.