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City Council Tightens ‘Chronic Nuisance’ Process

On Monday night, Lakewood City Council passed a measure clearing up the language in an ordinance on the books that put a dollar figure on recovering the costs responding to nuisance properties.

When a Lakewood property is found to be a “chronic nuisance,” the city can attempt to recover the costs of the city’s involvement — including costs associated with the police and fire departments. 

Those costs can now include those incurred at .

But don’t call them fines.

On Monday night, Lakewood City Council passed a measure clearing up the language in on recovering the costs.

The new ordinance removes the mandatory minimum fees. 

“What (the previous ordinance) doesn’t calculate,” said Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler, “is the cost of the time it takes in city hall to check the records, double check the records, send the nuisance letters out, certified mail costs, pay for the cost of the prosecutor and a police captain and pay for the cost of the finance department.”

“It’s got to pass through a lot of a hands.”

The city defines the “chronic nuisance” conditions as criminal activity, building problems or noise violations. One felony can trigger a nuisance complaint.

“Essentially, this will charge the most appropriate fee possible,” said Ward 3 councilman Shawn Juris, during council’s public safety committee meeting, “and not just a blanket number.”

Once the law department finds that a property is a “chronic nuisance,” the board of nuisance appeals must agree that the costs levied against the property owner are “appropriate.”

“In a civil process we don’t want to impose criminal fines,” said Butler. “We want to make sure that it’s actually the recovery of our costs — it’s not a pre-ordained fine.” 

“We don’t want taxpayers to have to pay for someone else’s problem.” 

Also included in the ordinance passed on Monday, are two other changes.

One of them caps a reconsideration of a nuisance declaration at 30 days. The other extends the appeal time period from 15 to 90 days.

“I think the nuisance process … is a success story, or perhaps a success in motion, “ said Ward 2 councilman Tom Bullock. “It’s something we’re never really done with.”

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