SOUTHINGTON - The Southington Town Council talked about plans for dealing with excessive police calls at the group home on Birchcrest Drive at Monday’s meeting.
Councilors Dawn Miceli and Victoria Triano provided an update to the council on the ongoing controversy with a group home for girls taken from bad family situations on Birchcrest Drive. Neighbors have long been complaining of disruptive behaviors from girls running away from the home and a high volume of police calls to their area.
Miceli and Triano head a task force on the issue and recently met with state Sen. Joe Markley, neighbors and police officers at the local police station to come up with potential solutions.
“It was a very productive meeting,” said Miceli. “It was very informational and we will continue to do research and talk to communities facing similar challenges. We will look into the possibility of implementation of a chronic noise ordinance. We will also talk to our congressmen about carving out a section of the Fair Housing Act and creating a petition to the Department of Children and Families.”
Miceli said she has drafted the petition, which neighbors can sign and then bring to the council for approval.
“Joe Markley will also look into introducing legislation which allows DCF to be contacted during group home hours,” Miceli added. “He will also examine the renewal process for this home and see if anything can be done about the undue burden it places on our community.”
Triano said she felt that Markley “really heard the people.”
“He understands that this needs to be addressed,” said Triano. “We are not the only community that has this problem. We need to get people involved on all levels of government - local, state and federal.”
Council Chairman Chris Palmieri said that Miceli and Triano have been a “good voice” for neighborhood residents.
“Thank you for the effort you put in,” he said.
Later, former town councilor and Ordinance Committee Chairwoman Cheryl Lounsbury updated the council on discussions she had with town attorney Carolyn Futtner on the issue. She also applauded neighbors and councilors for working together on the issue.
“We determined that we cannot make any ordinance for one group,” she said. “It has to apply to the entire population. Also, even if we implemented an ordinance limiting the number of police calls, Birchcrest Drive is run by DCF. They are responsible by law to contact the police every time.”
Lounsbury added that the number of calls had overall been trending down. Town officials have been discussing the issue with group home administration and the numbers will be re-examined in three or four months. More meetings will be held with Sen. Markley and neighbors too.
“We have discussed having emails sent to residents when police are called,” Lounsbury added. “That way, they know not to worry if it is only for something like a loud argument.”
Also at the meeting, Cub Scouts from Webelos Pack 72 led the Pledge the Allegiance and sat in on the meeting in order to earn their government badges.
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