SOUTHINGTON - The Town Council held a public hearing Monday on a proposed ordinance that would penalize owners of properties that generate large numbers of calls for emergency services.
No action on the proposal was taken at the council meeting that followed the hearing, but Chairman Chris Palmieri said the council may vote on it at its next meeting.
Town Attorney Carolyn Futtner said that the council has been working for some time on the change in city policy.
“It’s not that you won’t be able to call the police or fire department or ambulance,” she said. “Once you reach 20 calls, police will speak with you about it. Once it gets to 25 calls, then there can be fines - the maximum under state law: $250 per call.”
Futtner said calls reporting crime, domestic violence and emergency medical issues would not count toward the limit.
Palmieri explained that the person making the calls would not be fined. Rather, the establishment where the reported incidents occur would be held responsible.
Deputy Police Chief Bill Palmieri said police will meet with property owners to determine why so many calls are being made.
“We will try to figure out how we can better improve relations and consider ways to mitigate the problems,” said Bill Palmieri. “Once it gets past 25, we will submit a report to the council for review and then the town can proceed with enforcement.”
The deputy chief stressed that this ordinance “doesn’t mean people can’t call the police anymore.”
“Ninety-nine percent of calls won’t fall under this ordinance,” he said.
The discussion of excessive police calls was brought on by residents of Birchcrest Drive, who have been complaining for years of disruptions they blame on the Bridge Family Center, which cares for teenage girls taken out of abusive situations.
Bob Sargeant, a Birchcrest Drive resident, said it has “been a long road to get here.”
“It costs [the town] about $828 per police call,” he said. “That’s a lot of money going out. $250 won’t pay for a whole lot, but watch how quickly things get straightened out when money is on the line.”
Melissa Hallgren, another Birchcrest Drive resident, remarked that “$250 is nothing to them” but thanked the council for their efforts.
Resident Roseanne Conti said the ordinance won’t help anybody.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Councilor John Barry, who chairs the Public Works Committee, announced that Weston & Sampson of Rocky Hill has been recommended as the contractor for road safety improvements in Plantsville. It won the job with a $150,000 bid. The town received a state grant to do this work.
“The state doesn’t feel that the on-street parking in Plantsville is safe,” he said. “There will be design improvements and sidewalks will be widened. People are parking illegally on sidewalks now and they won’t be to do that anymore.”
Town leaders have previously said that the improvements will include creating a municipal parking lot and improving an intersection.
“There will be numerous workshops and our committee will reach out to the business community,” said Barry. “Dawn Miceli will serve as the liaison. Taxpayers are welcome to come to our meetings as well.”
Palmieri later announced that Hartford HealthCare representatives would address the council at an October meeting instead of later this month. He said Town Manager Mark Sciota would be away on a conference at the September meeting and the council wanted him present for the discussion.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.