Police Chief preparing report on disorderly housing

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton Police Chief Kevin Schofield is preparing a report on repeated police calls to an apartment building at 3 Fowler Street that will serve as the basis for a determination by selectmen as to whether its landlord, Anthony Numberg, is in violation of the town’s Disorderly Housing Ordinance.

Nearby neighbor Roxy Hagerman would say the question is a no-brainer.

At Tuesday’s Selectmen meeting, she said the neighborhood has been suffering for years because of the conduct of certain tenants who rent there. She wondered whether the town was even recognizing the Disorderly Housing Ordinance anymore. The ordinance calls for remedial action if there’s been three or more police calls to the address in 60 days.

“We’ve had 10 visits in a two-week period,” said Hagerman. She said it’s very upsetting “when you have to live next door to something like this.”

A review of the police log in the past few weeks bears Hagerman out. Most of the calls have to do with loud music being played, but in many instances the caller or callers report that tenants at 3 Fowler are fighting and screaming at one another and appear to be intoxicated.

Hagerman said the problem has been going on for years.

In an interview held 15 months after his arrival in Bridgton, Schofield said he was aware that his department had sent Numberg at least one letter, in 2010, warning him he may be in violation of the Disorderly Housing Ordinance. But he said Numberg told him he had resolved the problem by talking to his tenants.

Schofield said in that interview that most of the complaints, which he called “quality of life complaints,” aren’t serious enough to be considered disorderly, either under the local ordinance or under the criminal definition of disorderly conduct.

A disorderly house, under the ordinance, is defined as one in which, in three or more instances over 60 days, police have responded to conduct that is “unreasonably disturbing to residents of neighboring properties.” Such conduct, the ordinance states, includes “loud music, excessively loud or unnecessary noises emanating from within the dwelling which is audible outside the dwelling, boisterous parties, fights (including domestic violence) or the arrest and conviction of persons at the dwelling for conduct which constitutes a crime or a civil infraction.”

Each of the three calls within the 60-day period need to be substantiated by police as examples of conduct that could lead to a finding of disorderly house, the ordinance states. If selectmen reach such a finding, a consent agreement will be drawn up ordering the landlord to either control the disorderly behavior by tenants or have them evicted.

Penalties for violating the terms of the consent agreement range from $100 to $2,500 for each day the violations continue to occur.

Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz said, after Schofield submits his report, selectmen will hold an evidentiary hearing at which both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence on whether the ordinance has been violated. The board will then issue a ruling. It will be the first time such a hearing has been held since the ordinance was enacted seven years ago.

Selectmen agreed to hold the hearing at a special meeting and not at a regular selectmen’s meeting.

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