Putting bite in the fight against “nuisance houses”

March 10, 2014

We would bet most municipalities that have drinking establishments within their borders have adopted ordinances that deal with nuisance bars.

These ordinances are enforced, usually by police, when these establishments generate a host of complaints from either citizens or other businesses, are continually cited for various violations, or are the site of violence.

When these violations are deemed serious enough, the authorities shut down the bar.

While Cumberland Township in Greene County may not have issues with drinking establishments, it does have concerns about what should perhaps be called “nuisance houses.”

The supervisors last week agreed to advertise an ordinance under which fines can be imposed against the occupants or owners of houses to which police are repeatedly called for problems.

A “disorderly house ordinance” will allow police or code officers to cite the occupants or owners of houses to which police are called for certain crimes or violations at least three times during a 12-month period.

The violations that will determine whether a house is a “nuisance house,” include rioting or fighting, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, cruelty to animals, illegal gambling, corruption of minors, underage drinking, drug violations, including drug overdoses, property maintenance and other local ordinance violations.

Police often spend an inordinate amount of their time responding over and over to the same residences for the aforementioned issues. The township’s police chief admitted there are certain houses that occupy the majority of the time of the police department and emergency services. The new ordinance will allow the township to impose a fine of up to $300 on the occupants as well as the owners of these police-blotter perennials.

These violations put police officers in great jeopardy. If police identify any of these houses as habitual offenders, we think a $300 fine is a slap on the wrist. These ordinance violations are, in fact, crimes and should be dealt with accordingly.



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