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Problem property ordinance comes before city council for a second try at passage

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - Members of city council were set to decide Tuesday whether tweaks to an ordinance about policing chronic problem properties could help the proposal pass.

The fiscal body has been torn between protecting homeowners who live near disorderly neighbors and making sure not to trample on property ownership rights.

Chronic problem property ordinance set for follow-up discussion and vote by Fort Wayne city council.

Your experience as a homeowner, good or bad, can depend largely on the quality of people living next to you.

A chronic problem property ordinance being considered by city council lays out a way for the city to crack down on people who own and occupy their homes, but whose conduct is deemed offensive or disorderly by their neighbors and police.

Under the measure, homeowners running gambling or prostitution, dealing drugs or hosting gang activity-- even making too much noise-- could be turned in to city police, and if an investigation substantiates the bad behavior, they could be subject to fines.

The ordinance was tabled last month when certain council members raised concerns about it going too far.

Problem property measure tweaked to try and get enough votes for passage.

Now, there are exceptions spelled out, that would protect targets whose disorderly behavior is found to be generated by victims or potential victims of domestic abuse, individuals in an emergency, or people with a physical or mental impairment preventing them from controlling their conduct.

City councilman Geoff Paddock thinks city police are trained to make good judgments when enforcing it.

"They are going to realize if it is a domestic disturbance, if it is an autistic person, if it is something that we wouldn't want to cite under this," Paddock said.

Republican Paul Ensley wants the language to more closely follow that found in a South Bend ordinance this one is modeled after.

He claims that the South Bend code is more specific in detailing what constitutes conduct that crosses the line.

"To make sure folks are protected but also that the ordinance doesn't run amok and end up getting people for having overgrown flower beds," Ensley said.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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