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Ordinance effects continue

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, December 1, 2005

The effects of the controversial disorderly house amendment passed more than four months ago by the South Bend Common Council – which led to eviction proceedings against six Notre Dame students in late October – are still being felt, as several other students have received notices to abate in recent weeks, officials said.

The city attorney’s office has sent notices to abate to six separate addresses for student drinking in the last few weeks, assistant city attorney Ann-Carol Nash said Tuesday.

“Our office has been receiving complaints about student activity for years, and we’ve been working at trying to address that in a variety of ways,” Nash said. “We have sent notices to abate based on a variety of types of activity.”

The July 25 amendment gives the city the right to send tenants a notice to abate after just one noise violation or alcohol-related violation. A notice to abate is a warning letter to a landlord letting him or her know alcohol-related violations of state law took place on the property.

“I haven’t gotten word of any other students receiving notices of abate, but I’m sure more have been given,” said student body president Dave Baron, whose resolution against certain aspects of the ordinance’s enforcement was passed by the Student Senate Wednesday night. “I know landlords who own houses are waiting until a [student’s] second infraction to give notices of abate.”

The city attorney’s office is responsible for sending the notices – to complex owners, occupants and local manager, if there is one, Nash said.

Notices to abate had also been filed to managers at Turtle Creek Apartments, which filed eviction notices in court Oct. 21 against six Notre Dame students for violating the ordinance. The students are currently undergoing eviction proceedings.

“Of the six evicted students, one I’ve been in contact with since the first notice of abate. The others I contacted proactively,” Baron said. “The University is offering housing if they can accommodate. They don’t want their students to be homeless, but we’re looking at 600 people over capacity [in the residence halls].

“The University is doing [its] best.”

Nash declined to give an update of the legal proceedings.

“I don’t have much information about details of legal proceedings. People haven’t wanted to talk too much. They haven’t wanted to comment while it was all going on,” Baron said. “I know some students will be moving out, and two students are looking to return to campus housing.”

Nash said notices of abate are fair because the students broke the law. Similarly, Baron said students are now taking the repercussions of the ordinance more seriously.

“I think that this could have been done in a different way – students can and want to be good neighbors,” Baron said. “I don’t think it takes that heavy of a stick. It’s unfortunate these six people are the ones the ordinance has come down upon.”

Nash said future similar activity would be an indication that the owner is allowing such violations to take place. Landlords do not face city fines if they evict the tenants within 30 days of receiving the notice to abate.

Nash said she has received few responses about the notices of abate.

“I did get a nice letter from a single person for a property that is in the northeast area of the city … saying he apologized and it wouldn’t happen again,” Nash said. “Other than that, I got copies of filings for the Turtle Creek apartments.”

Nash said it is up to students to continue to discuss the issue.

“I’ll be glad to try to answer any questions or hear any concerns. I have great respect for students at Notre Dame,” Nash said.

Katie Perry contributed to this report