Hadley May Label Party-Prone Houses
By Scott Merzbach, Staff Writer
Daily Hampshhire Gazette
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
HADLEY - A nuisance bylaw that would allow police to physically tag party houses in Hadley, and better alert landlords to the problems caused by their tenants, may be brought to voters this fall.
But whether this bylaw, based on one that exists in Narragansett, R.I., comes to voters could depend on whether similar bylaws already exist in Massachusetts.
Town Administrator David Nixon told the Board of Selectmen last week that the Narragansett bylaw is a good model for Hadley because that town also experiences high-risk student drinking, both during the academic year from the nearby University of Rhode Island and during the summer when it becomes a resort community.
The nuisance bylaw would give town officials and police the opportunity to mandate that posters be put up at homes found in violation of the town's noise, open container and keg bylaws. These posters would have to remain up for 60 days at homes that have been the site of a police response. The idea is that the poster is a visual sign to landlords about what their tenants have done, though the landlords would also be notified by a letter.
The Narragansett bylaw reads: "The premises at which such nuisance occurred shall be posted with a notice stating that the intervention of the police has been necessitated."
The nuisance bylaw would contain fines of $250 for the first offense, $350 for the second and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.
Selectman Barbara O'Connor said she would like to see if similar bylaws are in place in Massachusetts communities before endorsing it.
Police Chief Dennis Hukowicz said he could support the nuisance bylaw or amending the existing noise bylaw to be more effective.
"What I would like to use this bylaw is holding landlords responsible," Hukowicz said.
Hukowicz said he isn't sure the formal tagging of problem homes is needed. Last school year, there were 12 problem houses identified, and Hukowicz said he and the police officers remain familiar with them.
Selectman Kate Nugent said that mandating the posters might not be dissimilar from "A Scarlet Letter."
"Labeling houses reminds me of Hester Prynne a little bit," Nugent said.