[dropcap]A[/dropcap]thens City Council had a fiery discussion Monday night when Athens Law Director Patrick Lang mentioned a run-in with Ohio Revised Code regarding an ordinance amending nuisance parties.
Lang told the council that the planned fine for nuisance parties of $250 would no longer be possible without a criminal record, due to Ohio Revised Code. In order for the charge to become just a civil offense, the maximum penalty would have to be $150 not $250, he said.
With hopes of reducing criminality, the council originally agreed to raise the fine for nuisance parties from $150 to $250 while reducing the penalty from a criminal offense to a civil offense.
If the council were to raise the fine to $250, the offense would also be raised to a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, which would result in a criminal record and a possibility of jail time.
While this news did cause a bit of a debate among councilmembers, many agreed that the $150 charge would have to be accepted in order to continue the original plan of removing criminality.
Councilman Steve Patterson said that the $150 fine would serve to get the ball rolling, while the second offense would appear on the offender’s legal record. “It makes sense that we go with the lesser amount.”
Mayor Paul Wiehl mentioned that this would allow for more tickets to be issued with the removal of the criminality stigma, while Lang compared the citation with that of a “parking ticket.”
According to Council Member At Large Chris Knisely, this amendment was first raised in discussions with the Joint Police Advisory Commission and members of Ohio University’s Student Senate.
“I think it’s a good step towards moving and working with the police chief on this, but also working in consideration of students who live in the community,” said Knisely. “We’re hoping it’s a win-win.”
Within the upcoming weeks, the ordinance will be revisited for the second and third readings.
City council also discussed ordinances concerning an extension of sanitary sewer collection services, a granting of minor lot splits, loud animal restrictions, housing regulations and sanitary requirements, and a declaration of canine equipment as no longer needed due to the retirement of both the officer and dog, along with the termination of the canine program.