College parties off the SUNY Fredonia campus, particularly during Fred Fest weekend, will now be more apt to get busted up, as the Fredonia Village Board on Monday enacted Local Law No. 4 of 2013, a social host law which prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages or drugs by persons under 21 on private property.
"The village board finds that the occurrence of social gatherings at private residences where alcoholic beverages or drugs are served to or consumed by persons under the age of 21 is harmful to such persons themselves and a threat to public welfare, health and safety," the law states.
During the workshop portion of the meeting, Trustee Marc Ruckman asked if this law would mean a parent who gives beer to his underage son on his front porch would be arrested. Police Chief Bradley Meyers denied this would happen.
"This law does not supercede any New York state laws already in existence. You are allowed to provide alcohol, believe it or not, for an underage subject with a parent or guardian. There's nothing illegal about that and nothing will change about that," he said. "This is about underage kids throwing a house party and us being allowed to go in and arrest the tenants, who are not permitted to provide alcohol to minors under New York state law."
Meyers went on to say that the law, in essence, was crafted to free up the police department by demoting the crime to a lesser charge.
"All it's doing is taking something that we could arrest them for a Class A misdemeanor for and allowing us to arrest them for a violation. This frees the officers up to issue appearance tickets at the scene, bust the party up and move on," he said. "We are moving it out of the venue of a criminal offense into a local ordinance so that it is less damaging to a young person's future, ... at the same time allowing us to move on more quickly to the next event or incident that's occurring. It's a win-win."
Failure to comply with the law will result in a punishment of a fine of not more than $500, imprisonment of not more than 15 days, or both. This punishment would be for property owners who are fully aware of a party occurring on their land and allowing it to occur. If the property owner is not aware of the party, the tenant who hosts the party is at fault.
A second law, Local Law No. 5 of 2013, was also passed at the meeting. That legislation dictates a maximum time of two hours for a trailer or trailer truck to park on village streets. That period of time is extended to two days if the trailer is being used to move equipment or furniture into or out of a house, or seven days if it is used in connection with the repair or construction of a building.
Meyers said the intent of the law was to address a specific, reoccurring issue on Terrace Street, where an individual has set up a trailer and is working out of it.
"It really is about the quality of life issue for these people who live there, who have to look out their window every day and instead of enjoying a summer, they're looking at a side of a 16-foot utility trailer," he said.
A person found violating the law will be subject to towing and storage at their expense. They will also be given a fine of $35 per day for the duration of the violation.
If a tractor trailer driver needs an extension on the allotted time, Meyers said he is willing to work with them to come up with a solution.
The board voted unanimously to pass both local laws. The mayor was not in attendance, so Trustee Joseph Cerrie presided over the voting.
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