Council looks at nuisance ordinance

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Geoffrey Ritter
Carbondale Times

Carbondale leaders weighed in Tuesday night on a proposed ordinance that would allow officials to better combat so-called “chronic nuisance houses” that regularly violate local laws governing noise, alcohol, burning, parking and more.

The lengthy discussion stretched on for more than two hours and included consideration of issues ranging from whether such a measure grants too much power to police to whether or not it truly achieves its goal of making neighborhoods in Carbondale safer.

The proposal would allow authorities to go after landlords and property managers with individual properties that have three or more such violations within a year’s time. According to the draft ordinance, landlords with a property labeled as a chronic nuisance could face a fine of up to $750 for each offending property, as well as an additional fine for each additional infraction that occurs there.

Tuesday’s discussion was merely a review, and there is currently no timetable for formal council action.

Police Chief Jeff Grubbs said the proposed ordinance is one that would affect very few residents but would “put teeth” into the ability of the police to go after specific problem areas.

“We’re a university community,” Grubbs said. “This isn’t about killing the fun. We’re talking about a minimum of residences that would be impacted.”

Bonnie Owen Wright of Wright Properties said the ordinance would constitute a violation of both property owners and their tenants.

“We do not believe this ordinance will cure the problem,” she said.

City tables action on Pony’s liquor license renewal
A controversial business remains in limbo after Tuesday’s meeting.

The council, meeting as the Local Liquor Control Commission, voted to table the renewal of the liquor license for the Pony Cabaret and Steakhouse on East Main Street.

Mayor Mike Henry and Councilwoman Carolin Harvey voted against tabling the measure. The motion to table was made by Councilman Navreet Kang because of an incomplete explanation of Pony owner Jerry Westlund’s criminal history on the application.

In June, the commission voted not to renew the Pony’s license after receiving reports of varying degrees of undress inside, which is illegal in Carbondale establishments that serve alcohol. Westlund filed an appeal with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

In June of this year, the state commission ordered the city to issue the 2015-16 license after finding no substantial evidence that the business had violated the city’s pre-existing nudity ordinance. The city was under no direct order, however, to issue a license for 2016-17.

Accompanying the action was the council’s separate approval of an ordinance clarifying what kind of entertainment is legal within establishments that serve alcohol. The ordinance prohibits any “topless or bottomless act,” with topless itself defined as “being naked or without clothing or covering of the breast area at or below … a horizontal line across the top of the areola.” Bottomless means anything that displays the buttocks or pubic hair. The ordinance directly outlaws G-string bottoms and body paint used as covering.