WEST ALEXANDRIA — Village Council voted not to move forward with a controversial nuisance ordinance that would penalize landlords whose tenants are repeatedly cited for drug-related offenses during its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Oct. 19.
Council approved the first two readings of the ordinance during previous meetings. As initially discussed during council’s May 18 meeting, owners of properties found to be in violation would face a series of warnings and fines, and could even lose the ability to continue renting a property for a period of time.
President Ashley Myers had questions about the ordinance during council’s Sept. 23 meeting, including whether local police have tried reaching out to landlords less obtrusively in an effort to curb drug-related activity taking place at their properties.
Police Chief Tony Gasper replied that some success had been achieved using more congenial methods, but that police are ultimately unable to impose any consequences if landlords fail to act.
“Landlords know when something’s going on. The problem here is they don’t care,” Officer Josh Kaczmarek told the council during the September meeting. “Once they realize they’re gonna lose that rent money for a year, they’ll respond. I promise.”
Myers also took issue with the inclusion of barking dog complaints and other noise violations in the ordinance, which mostly consists of drug violations and other serious crimes, though Gasper insisted that language in the ordinance clearly distinguishes between penalties for criminal violations and others.
If passed, the ordinance would have imposed fines that, if unpaid, could lead to foreclosure on the cited property, though it would not have allowed the village to evict residents or to force landlords to do so.
There was little discussion during last Monday’s meeting. Council members Myers, Holly Robbins, and Shannon Smith voted not to approve the third reading of the ordinance, which would have been followed by a motion to adopt if passed. Councilmen Dan Utsinger, Zach Shafer and Geoff Justice voted to approve; Mayor Jeff Hickey then broke the resulting tie with his own “no” vote.
A work session was scheduled to take place Monday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. to further discuss the potential ordinance.
Also during Monday’s meeting:
Fiscal Officer Shaylie Werner announced that the village had received a third round of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The village has received an additional $47,747.36, according to Werner.
Council voted to earmark approximately $74,000 in CARES funding during previous meetings, including the establishment of a Utility and Housing Relief Fund that would offer select residents who show evidence of COVID-19-related economic hardship payments of up to $3,200 per household.
Purchase orders totaling $39,183.34 in CARES-related expenditures were also approved by council during previous meetings, including orders of touchless soap and paper towel dispensers to be installed at facilities including the town hall, fire and EMS departments, and the village sewer plant. The equipment is expected to help limit contact with high-touch surfaces that can help spread the coronavirus.
Finally, EMS Chief Tom Smith updated council on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the local community.
“Unfortunately COVID-19 is on the rise,” Smith said during his monthly report. “I receive calls at least daily with news of another confirmed case.”
The EMS department recently ordered 1,000 N95 face masks using CARES Act dollars, according to Smith, and is in the process of pursuing quotes for plastic face shields as well.
West Alexandria Village Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will take place Monday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at the village EMS office located at 8 Marty Lane.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish