Dover council introduces ordinance aimed at repeated trouble-makers

DOVER — A double-pronged ordinance aimed at quelling frequent disturbances at both businesses and tenant-occupied premises was read for the first time at the Dover City Council meeting Monday night.

The nuisance ordinance, No. 2017-01, was heard before council at City Hall and final action by council regarding the measure and potential penalties will take place during its second reading on Feb. 13.

Under the new measure, sponsored by City Council President Timothy A. Slavin and Fourth District City Councilman Roy Sudler Jr., three violations of Subsection (a) – Disturbing activity – to a business within a 12-month period will require the police department to notify the Department of Planning and Inspections.

Planning and Inspections will then issue a provisional order, which is the first step toward revocation of a business license, according to Ann Marie Townshend, the city’s Director of Planning and Inspections and Parks & Recreation.

The disturbances listed in the ordinance include, but are not limited to, “engaging in fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior, making unreasonable noise or an offensively coarse utterance, gesture or display or addressing abusive language to any person present, obstructing vehicular traffic or pedestrian traffic, or creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition which serves no legitimate purpose.”

The fines involved with the disorderly premises ordinance – both for businesses and tenant-occupied premises – are “not to exceed $1,000 for any offense but not less than $100 for the first offense, not less than $300 for the second offense, and not less than $500 for each subsequent like offense.”

Mrs. Townshend said the police department would enforce the ordinance and issue the fines, which would be levied against the occupants of the premises and not against the owner.

“We went back and reviewed (the ordinance) and changed New Castle County’s version to make it Dover-specific,” Mrs. Townshend said. “What it would do is define the types of activity and it allows for the police department to issue fines for violations of this disorderly premises ordinance.”

Youth Focus Group to be formed

Dover Public Library Director Margie Cyr is working alongside Mrs. Townshend and Lt. Christopher Hermance of the Dover Police Department in establishing a Youth Focus Group in the city.

Ms. Cyr said the purpose of the Focus Group is to: solicit input on ideas, solutions, and issues from the youth of the city.

“Our hope is that the feedback we receive from the young people will provide us with insight into their perspectives and desires and to help us better create interesting and valuable services to enrich their lives,” said Ms. Cyr, who will lead and moderate the group. “It is crucial to us that input is received from youth city-wide and that all sections of the community are represented.

“To this end, we have sent letters to each of the churches and all the schools in Dover asking each to nominate one parishioner and/or student to participate in the Focus Group. This should provide us with a large but manageable group representing a complete cross-section of the city.”

The Focus Group will be made up of individuals from ages 13 through 16 who reside in Dover.

The Focus Group session will be held on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at the Dover Public Library.

A committee of staff from the Library, Planning and Parks & Recreation and the Police Department has been formed.

The committee will be developing questions intended to elicit feedback on “ideas, solutions, and issues” important to the youth of Dover.

At the conclusion of the Focus Group, the results will be compiled and submitted to Dover City Council and the respective departments for review and consideration.

In other news from Monday’s city council meeting:

• Bradley S. Eaby was presented with a certificate of appreciation and congratulations for serving as a Second District Kent County Levy Court Commissioner from January 2007 until last December. Mr. Eaby resigned from his position at Levy Court to accept a job as State of Delaware Deputy Attorney General in the Civil Division, representing the Department of Transportation.

• Mayor Robin R. Christiansen made an official proclamation declaring February at Black History Month in Dover and “urged all citizens to reflect on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans.”

• Council unanimously passed a measure awarding a contract to M2 Construction LLC for the city of Dover Rolling Acres Pump Station Replacement Project. The company’s bid was for $439,300.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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