In 2020, Riverside’s board voted to approve a new ordinance, pushed by its then-chief of police, intended to give the village some legal clout when it came to dealing with properties where the police were called several times and they had become neighborhood nuisances.
Fortunately, there are few properties in the village that meet such a description, but no municipality is immune to a nuisance that arises from time to time. Often, these nuisances are temporary.
But chronic, long-standing nuisance properties do exist and can range from simply unsightly and annoying to threatening the safety of those living on the property and those around them.
Where that line is drawn is up to interpretation and a public body seeking extraordinary remedies for private property issues is quite an escalation from the usual local ordinance citation for code violations or minor infractions disorderly conduct.
It will be interesting to see how the courts respond to the lawsuit brought last week by Riverside against the owner of a Millbridge Road property, declaring the house there a chronic nuisance and seeking a more or less immediate abatement of that nuisance.
Lawsuit asks judge to force code, health and safety and fire safety compliance within days or risk landlord being told to leave for up to a year in order to solve the problems.
While extraordinary, the trial did not come out of nowhere. Police have visited the property more than 150 times in the past two years and dozens more before that, responding to disturbances – some of them violent – calls to evict unwanted people who have taken up residence there, complaints of loud noise , animal problems , etc.
This summer, in response to a flurry of police calls to the house over a two-month period, the village reportedly obtained the owner’s permission to inspect the house and compiled a list of maintenance violations. property, many of which remain unresolved despite the threat. other village actions.
Many might say that village action is long overdue and there should be dire consequences for homeowners who allow their homes to become nuisances to the neighborhood.
We’ll see what the court has to say about all of this. Often, these ownership conditions are the result of complicated personal circumstances — from mental and physical health issues, to mobility, to what most Americans view as the sanctity of their private property rights. The government can’t just come in and kick you out of your house, or at least it’s not supposed to work that way.
Of course, living in a civilized community should be a two-way street, so hopefully there is some recourse in this case other than the nuclear option laid out in the lawsuit. It’s a test case, that’s for sure.