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The story of the proposed "nuisance house" bylaw concerns municipal codes, ordinances, or bylaws (as well as state statutes and laws) "NUISANCE HOUSE" "SOCIAL HOST" "UNRULY HOUSE" "PARTY HOUSE" "PUBLIC NUISANCE" "DISORDERLY HOUSE" "OPEN HOUSE ASSEMBLY" "NOISE" ETC...

The Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce High-Risk Drinking is following a rampant trend to pass social host laws aimed at curbing the supply of alcohol for underage drinkers and associated problems of underage drinking at parties...blah blah blah...

Local Press Coverage (also see Press page for related articles)

August 14, 2007
Daily Hampshire Gazette
Hadley May Label Party-Prone Houses
By Scott Merzbach

February 15, 2008
Daily Hampshire Gazette
'Party House' Bylaw Pitched for Hadley, Amherst
By Scott Merzbach

April 25, 2008
Amherst Bulletin
No Battle Lines Drawn at this Town Meeting
By Scott Merzbach

May 16, 2008
The Republican
'Nuisance House' Bylaw Would Target Rowdy Behavior
By Diane Lederman

May 19, 2008
The Republican
Bylaw Aims to Restore Quiet
By Diane Lederman

May 23, 2008
Amherst Bulletin
Rezoning Measure Denied
By Scott Merzbach

May 30, 2008
Daily Hampshire Gazette
Amherst Town Meeting: Session 8

June 1, 2008
The Republican
Amherst to vote on tax surcharge
By Diane Lederman

June 27, 2008
Amherst Bulletin
Resident makes moves against nuisance bylaw
By Scott Merzbach

September 9, 2008
The Daily Collegian
Amherst bylaw looks to quiet off-campus partiers
By Matt Rocheleau and William McGuinness

September 11, 2008
The Daily Collegian
Silencing UMass students
S.P. Sullivan

Other News, Reports, and Materials

January 5, 2008
Laws Crash Underage Drinking Parties
By John Ritter


Winter 2007 - Volume 8, No. 2
A Publication of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention
Getting House Parties Under Control

Please refer to links page

Check out some other resorces on the LINKS page!

Campus and Community Coalition Materials

 Letter & Introduction

The following documents (html below, pdf to the right) from the CCC were distributed to Town Meeting members: the letter was part of materials that were in packets prepared by the Town Meeting Coordinating Committee, the Introduction was availabe on tables at Town Meeting beginning the first week of May.

File Size: 96 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

Intro from CCC.pdf
File Size: 104 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

Letter to Members of Amherst Town Meeting
(in Town Meeting Coordinating Committee packets to Town Meeting members)

April 14, 2008

To the Members of Amherst Town Meeting;

We are writing on behalf of the Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce High Risk Drinking (CCC) in support of Warrant Article 40. Bylaw - Nuisance House also known as the "Social Host and Party House Nuisance Bylaw."

Dangerous and underage drinking and disruptive parties are a serious concern in our community. These problems often lead to injuries, property damage and traumatized neighborhoods. Research and practice shows us that clear and consistent policies and strong enforcement efforts are often the most effective strategies for curtailing these problems. The CCC has been working for the past three years to implement a variety of strategies to reduce illegal and binge drinking among students. These strategies have already resulted in a dramatic decrease in binge drinking behaviors among UMass students.

Large, disorderly parties can cause traffic problems, neighborhood disturbances, overburden local police, create an unsafe environment for those attending, and lead to property damage and violent behavior. These parties are also where minors and underage drinkers find easy access to alcohol and an environment that promotes binge drinking. A subcommittee of the CCC spent over a year reviewing bylaws from college communities across the country. The bylaw outlined in Warrant Article 40 was written to represent the best practices discovered during this review and to fill a gap in existing enforcement strategies.

The Coalition took a formal vote at a meeting on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 on the following motion:

"The Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce High Risk Drinking supports the spirit and intent of the proposed social host and party house nuisance bylaw."

With 18 members present the motion passed unanimously.

We hope that you will make the connection between strong enforcement and the health, safety and quality of life for everyone in our community. We encourage the Town to adopt this new enforcement tool to discourage disruptive parties, binge and underage drinking.


Martha Nelson Patrick          Sally Linowski, Ph.D.
CCC Co-Chair                      CCC Co-Chair

Introduction to Article 40
Bylaw Nuisance House

As part of the Campus and Community Coalition's (CCC) initiative to reduce underage and dangerous drinking, including the serious and persistent problems associated with home drinking parties, the bylaw subcommittee reviewed existing town bylaws and ordinances with the goal of strengthening the current bylaws, and if necessary, recommending new bylaws.

 After examining the effectiveness of the existing bylaws in relationship to the problems associated with underage/problem drinking and nuisance complaints, the committee came to the conclusion that while the current bylaws have been helpful in dealing with the problem, there are areas they do not effectively address. The two primary areas are underage drinking at home parties and the associated nuisance problem from such gatherings. Although the Unlawful Noise Bylaw addresses noise issues, it does not adequately address the associated behavioral aspects of the "gatherings".

 With this in mind, the bylaw committee began to study social host bylaws and ordinances that have been enacted in many other college and resort communities. These bylaws are considered best practices in alcohol prevention. The proposed "Social Host and Party House Nuisance Bylaw" is based on similar bylaws being used in Nanagansett, Rhode Island and the City of San Diego, Califomia. Many of the model bylaws used in other·communities particularly in Ventura County California are similar to this proposal. This bylaw was recently passed by the Hadley Town Meeting.

 The highlights of the bylaw are:

     •  Recognizes that the occurence of loud or unruly parties on private property where alcoholic beverages are served to, or consumed by, underage persons is harmful to the underage persons themselves, is a threat to public health, safety, quiet enjoyment of residential propeliy and general welfare, and constitutes a public nuisance.

     •  Recognizes that persons responsible for the occurence of loud or unruly parties on private property over which they have possession or control have a duty to ensure that alcoholic beverages are not served to, or consumed by, underage persons at these parties.

     •  Recognizes that landlords have a duty to attempt to remove tenants residing on their property who continually violate nuisance laws.

     •  Recognizes that law enforcement, fire, or other emergency responders often need to respond multiple times to disperse underage drinking parties, resulting in a disproportionate expenditure of the public safety resources on these parties, delaying police responses to regular and emergency call, and reducing police calls to the rest of a community.

Recognizes that the town requires a variety of enforcement strategies to abate underage drinking parties under varying circumstances and that present law constrains the ability of law enforcement to deter underage drinking parties and other gatherings.

     •  As a primary strategy for deterring underage drinking parties on private property, imposes a fine against social hosts and/or landowners for the recovery of specified costs associated with providing law enforcement, fire, or other emergency response services on multiple occasions to the scene of a loud or unruly party.

The committee believes the proposed bylaw could be used as an additional tool to compliment the existing bylaws. The idea of cost recovery in a time of fiscal constraints to local communities is an important factor in allowing towns the financial ability to respond to nuisances that are detrimental to local neighborhoods without further burdening the local budget. It is a more effective deterrent to offenders of the bylaw in that not only will they face a fine but also expensive response costs. A springtime weekend in fullherst cost the town’s police department about $15,000.00 in overtime dealing with nuisance gatherings.