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‘We need help’: neighborhood leaders support ordinance seeking to crackdown on ‘disorderly houses’

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - Homeowners living near a drughouse or place tied to crime can feel their safety is at risk, and their home value could drop.

A new proposal being introduced to city council might offer the chance for some relief.

Republican councilman Tom Didier is sponsoring an ordinance to promote public peace and protection of home values by setting up a mechanism to stop offensive conduct taking place near your front door.

Stiff fines are proposed for owners of "disorderly houses".

Under his proposal, if you have a neighbor hosting everything from gambling, to prostitution, to gang activity, or is disturbing the peace by discharging firearms or making too much noise, you can report it to Fort Wayne police.

GOP councilman Tom Didier is sponsoring an ordinance that seeks to clamp down on "disorderly houses".

Each complaint would be logged, and if police investigate and substantiate illegal activities, the property owner gets a formal warning.

If the bad behavior doesn't stop, the city can authorize fines up to $2,500 a day for each separate offense.

"If we can curb a percentage of the activities that are happening, then it's a good thing," Didier said.

A few years back, city council passed a similar kind of ordinance focusing on cleaning up troubled commercial properties.

City police say drug dealing and violent crime issues cropped up in some of the extended stay hotels near I-69 in the northwest part of town, and that the commercial property ordinance helped them fight the problems.

John Modezjewski is with Neighborhoods United Group, or NUG, which has lobbied for the commercial problem property concept to apply to residential areas too.

He wants police to have more tools to stamp out nuisances.

"We need help. This bill, this introduction is a step in the right direction," Modezjewski said.

Didier says the ordinance was held up for months, in part, to make sure the language could stand up to legal challenges.

Some opponents have expressed concerns that the effort could violate fair housing standards.

All sides will get a chance to weigh in on the measure, possibly as early as council's January 21 meeting.

It could be put to a final vote January 28th.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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