SOUTHINGTON — The town’s ordinance review committee voted Wednesday to recommend fines against properties that generate more than 25 police calls per year, a measure that would apply town-wide but was prompted by a group home for teenage girls on Birchcrest Drive.
The measure must be approved by the Town Council before it’s enacted. The ordinance committee includes Town Council Chairman Chris Palmieri, a Democrat, and Victoria Triano, Republican council minority leader. Both supported fines for police calls on Wednesday.
Only ordinance committee chairwoman Cheryl Lounsbury, a former councilor, voted against the proposal. She was concerned about lawsuits against the town.
Fines for police calls were first proposed as a way of forcing changes at the group home for teen girls. Neighbors have complained to town officials about the frequent disruptions.
The Bridge Family Center, a state Department of Children and Families subcontractor, rents the Birchcrest Drive house.
On Wednesday, Triano said passing the ordinance was controversial but that “sometimes you have to stand for what’s right.”
Deputy Police Chief William Palmieri said if approved, the ordinance would have levied fines against 10 properties last year including the group home. Nine were businesses and one was a residence, he said.
Margaret Hann, executive director of The Bridge, said they’ve worked to reduce police calls and neighborhood disruption.
“When we need the police, we need them. We don’t make those calls lightly,” she said.
Hann also doubted whether fines would be collected.
“The property owner (Robert Koff) is not going to pay that. He’s got an army of lawyers. Good luck with that,” she said.