Aug 222006
 
Authors: Vimal Patel The Rocky Mountain Collegia

Fort Collins police and city officials Tuesday night advocated keeping the current noise ordinance laws in place.

City staff examined the issue in response to the complaints of several CSU students who were pinned with noise violations – including one who claimed the record of the violation kept him out of law school.

No CSU students opposed to the ordinance – which carries a $1,000 fine – appeared to be in attendance at the city council meeting Tuesday night.

“Students are still partying, but they’re being more proactive and responsible,” said Fort Collins Police Services Lt. Jim Szakmeister, who argued for keeping the severity and enforcement of the ordinance in place.

In 2003, the lieutenant proposed the Party Project to combat unruly parties. And when enforcement of the noise ordinance laws was stepped up the next year, the city clearly benefited, he said.

Noise complaints were slashed almost in half, he said, from nearly 400 in 2004 to less than 200 in 2006, leading Szakmeister to a presidential moment.

” It’s important to stay the course,” he told the community and city council members in attendance.

The director of community affairs for Associated Students of CSU, Thomas Baxendale, said ASCSU didn’t have an official stance on the ordinance.

“I’m here just to make sure students are well represented,” the political science major said.

Anne Hudgens, director of the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services at CSU, said her office routinely deals with records requests from federal agencies looking to obtain records.

“It’s not my perspective that students will be denied admittance based on records (of noise ordinance violations),” she said.

The violation is currently a criminal misdemeanor, said Beth Sowder, Neighborhood Services manager.

Her department, along with FCPS and the city attorney’s office, agreed about keeping the current ordinance in place.

One complaint about the violation, officials said, was its arbitrariness. Officers on scene decide whether to issue a citation. Lots of factors determine whether a violation should be issued, including time of day and other noise such as construction.

Szakmeister said that the best thing a resident slapped with a noise ordinance violation can do is cooperate with police. If so, the fine will usually be reduced. The majority of ordinance violations run about $370, he said, but an unruly offender would probably pay the full fine.

The city council didn’t take action on any matter during the discussion, but no member voiced opposition to the ordinance.

Police want students to know that they’re not being targeted unfairly, Szakmeister said.

“The same standards apply for students that apply to the rest of the city.”

News managing editor Vimal Patel can be reached at news@collegian.com

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