[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Barnstable 1-17-2013 by Order No. 2013-031. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Peace and good order — See Ch. 147.
The purpose and intent of this chapter is to define a coherent method of addressing the adverse effects on the health, safety, welfare, and quality of life of residents arising from properties where illegal activity occurs on a regular basis. Some persons that own or control such properties allow their properties to be used for illegal activity, with the result that these properties have become chronic problem properties in the neighborhood. Chronic problem properties within the Town of Barnstable cause a financial burden by the numerous calls for service to the properties because of the illegal activities that repeatedly occur or exist on such properties. The current provisions of the ordinances relating to noise and disturbing the peace do not provide an adequate tool for abating such chronic problem properties. The Town through its public safety, code enforcement and regulatory agencies is in a unique position to gather data on such properties and to establish an active plan tailored to address the particularized problems and costs posed by specific properties.
Authority for police response. Where Police Department personnel, while on duty in service to the Department, are dispatched or caused to respond at a particular dwelling unit, property or location on multiple occasions, to incidents involving criminal offenses, whether a misdemeanor or felony under federal, state or local law, the Chief of Police is hereby authorized and empowered to assign to such dwelling unit, property or location a member or members of the department to staff such police response as the Chief of Police deems appropriate to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the inhabitants of the Town of Barnstable.
Requirements for police response. Such assignment of a police response shall only occur after the following procedure has been satisfied:
Upon being dispatched or caused to respond to an incident at a property involving a misdemeanor or a felony, Police Department personnel shall investigate the validity of the complaint against the occupants at the particular property or location.
Upon finding a valid complaint, police shall make a record of the incident and shall mail a copy of this chapter and copies of the all-calls reports relating to said police response to the property owner by certified mail. A "valid complaint," "incident" or "felony or misdemeanor," as used in this chapter, shall not include a complaint, incident or offense where an occupant of the premises is the victim of the crime.
The Police Department shall make a record of the number of such incidents at a particular dwelling unit, property or location and keep such record within the Department's control.
After two valid complaint incidents in a twelve-month period relating to the occupancy of a dwelling unit, or to a particular property or location, the Chief of Police or his designee may request a meeting with the property owner to coordinate a plan to resolve the incidents at the particular property. For the purpose of calculating the number of such incidents, where a particular property contains more than one single dwelling unit, providing complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation, a valid complaint incident shall be attributable to any single unit where the valid complaint incident has been documented, and not to the entire multiple-unit property.
After the four valid complaint incidents, whether misdemeanor or felony, in a twelve-month period, relating to the property owner, tenants or occupants of a dwelling unit or at a particular property or location, the Chief of Police shall schedule a meeting with the property owner and after the hearing, at his/her discretion, may make the decision to designate the property as a chronic problem property and assign a police response.
Factors that shall be considered by the Chief of Police include the following:
The Chief of Police shall notify, in writing, the property owner of his decision to designate the property as a chronic problem property and to assign police response as follows:
If the property owner resides within the Town of Barnstable, such notification should be hand delivered to the property owner's residence or usual place of business that is on record at the Assessor's office and by mailing the notification to such address by regular and certified mail, return receipt requested; or
If the property owner does not reside within the Town of Barnstable, by mailing the notification to the property owner's residence or usual place of business that is on record at the Assessor's office by regular and certified mail, return receipt requested.
The Chief of Police's notification must inform the property owner that he/she may request, in writing, a hearing, within 14 days of the notification, from the Chief of Police and where and to whom he/she must address his/her letter of appeal, specified under § 160-2D.
The notification shall contain the number of valid complaint incidents which occurred on said property in a twelve-month period.
After the hearing under Subsection B(5) above, the property may be officially identified as a chronic problem property, and the property owner shall be subject to the penalties addressed in Subsection C. The Chief of Police may commence assigning police response seven days after hand delivery of the notification and 10 days after mailing the notification to the property owner.
The Chief of Police or his designee shall keep an accurate record of the cost of police response to a particular property or location, including an accurate record of the number of officers who are part of the determined response; and the Chief of Police shall forward such record to the Collector.
Coordination of police response is subject to the rules and regulations of the Department.
The Collector is hereby authorized and empowered to notify and bill the property owner for the costs the Town incurred for its police response in addition to any incidental costs during the period of police response to the dwelling unit, particular property or location. The property owner is responsible for payment of the bill in full within 30 days of receiving the bill, unless an appeal under § 160-2D is timely filed. All amounts collected by the Collector shall be deposited into the general fund of the Town.
Any unpaid bill for police response, including interest and/or collection costs, shall be added to the real estate tax on the property and collected as part of that tax. Failure to pay real estate taxes will render the property owner delinquent, and the Collector shall commence foreclosure proceedings.
Property owner's rights. The property owner may request, in writing, a hearing before the Problem Properties Appeals Committee within 14 days of receipt of notification in order to appeal the designation of the property as a chronic problem property under § 160-2B(6) and/or to contest any penalties set forth in § 160-2C. A decision on the appeal must be in writing. If the Committee finds that the property is not a chronic problem property, the designation shall be removed and any penalties assessed shall be rescinded. If the Committee finds that the property is a chronic problem property, it may 1) uphold the penalty in its entirety or 2) reduce the penalty or 3) abate any portion thereof that has already been paid.
Eviction. In the event the property owner has commenced the process of eviction against the tenant(s) responsible for the incidents at the property, and demonstrates that he has proceeded diligently and in good faith, then the application of this chapter shall be stayed until the eviction process is concluded. The Chief of Police may continue police response at the particular property or location, at his discretion, at all times after the eviction proceeding has been completed; provided, however, that such costs shall not be assessed to the property owner.
Charges to constitute municipal lien pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 58. All charges to recover costs imposed in this chapter shall constitute a municipal lien on the property so charged in accordance with MGL c. 40, § 58.
Reporting requirements. The Chief of Police shall submit a written report to the Town Manager and Town Council, no later than six months after the effective date of this chapter, which shall include the total cost of administration of this chapter, as well as an accounting of all revenues collected in association with it. It shall also contain data regarding all dwelling units within a property, particular properties or locations which remain chronic problem properties and those that are no longer designated as chronic problem properties. The report shall also include the general impact, if any, that the implementation of this chapter has had on the health, safety, and welfare of' residents of Barnstable.
- Any individual, partnership, corporation, firm, association, or group, including a governmental unit and the Town of Barnstable or any of its agencies.
- POLICE RESPONSE
- Any and all police action deemed appropriate by the Chief of Police to protect the health, safety and welfare of inhabitants of a property or location where valid complaints have been documented.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- Any person who alone or severally with others has legal title to any building, structure, property, dwelling, dwelling unit(s), rooming unit or parcel of land, vacant or otherwise; mortgagee in possession; or agent, trustee or other person appointed by the courts.
- VALID COMPLAINT
- An investigated finding, documented by on-duty Police Department personnel dispatched or caused to respond to an incident, that a misdemeanor, felony under federal, state or local law has taken place in a dwelling unit, within a property, on a particular property or at a specific location which disturbs the health, safety and welfare of other inhabitants of said property or location. The term shall not include incidents involving an occupant of the premises as the victim of the crime.