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Barlow wants to create nuisance abatement board to handle disruptive neighbors in Oswego

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said the city's current system for dealing with problematic landlords and tenants, which relies on a point-based system that is assessed for each violation, has been ineffective because by the time enough points accumulate for the city to take action, the landlord or tenants leave. And the city's efforts in recent years to bolster the code enforcement department isn't fixing the issue.

"We’re still having trouble with disruptive properties where the police are always called to the residence, there’s domestic disputes, there’s loud music, there’s partying consistently, and that’s what we want to try to rein in," Barlow said. 

He wants to replace that system with a nuisance abatement committee made up of the chief of police, the city attorney, and the director of the code enforcement department. The committee could revoke a rental permit or even close a building if there are two criminal convictions associated with the property in a year or if there are constant police investigations, code violations, and complaints filed by neighbors.

Barlow acknowledges that the committee will have a lot of discretion, but said his proposed law would entitle landlords and tenants to a hearing before official action is taken.

"It’s not just one situation, not just one incident that’s going to trigger this entire process," He said. "It’s going to take some consistent activity and disruption to build this case and then before any official action is taken, the landlord has the opportunity to come in and say, 'I am going to handle this and would appreciate being given an extension to make this right' or maybe the tenants can say, 'it was a bad situation, here’s what’s happened to change things, there won’t be an issue going forward.' We’re open to that."

The Oswego Common Council is currently considering another one of Barlow's proposals affecting residential neighborhoods - a prohibition on for-rent signs.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.