EAST CHICAGO | The City Council has adopted an ordinance that addresses properties considered public nuisances.
The ordinance, sponsored by Mayor Anthony Copeland, intends to provide for safe housing in the city and hold tenants and property owners accountable for partaking in or allowing the use of properties for illegal activities.
"This is to try to give code enforcement in the community more tools to deal with difficult tenants," Council Attorney Steve Bower said.
The city will notify the owner of the property once it is determined that illegal activity is occurring there.
"If they refuse to take reasonable steps, i.e., evict or whatever they've got to do, then they can be cited," Bower said.
Property owners can be fined up to $2,500 for violation of the ordinance. Further violations could result in a $7,500 fine.
"This is not a desire to start fining the landlords," Bower said. "This is more of a desire to try to get the landlords to be more responsible."
Property owners will be provided with copies of the ordinance and the city will make available, when legally permissible, records and documents for use in eviction hearings to provide evidence showing illegal conduct occurred at the property.
The City Council approved the ordinance by an 8-0 vote, with At-large Councilman Juda Parks absent.
First District Councilman Adrian Santos said a prior ordinance on the books did not provide the city with any legal remedies.
He said much of the Police Department's time is spent responding to calls at apartment buildings, including one in his district that he said police have visited frequently.
"They probably had like, in the last six months, over 30 phone calls," Santos said.
In other city news, the council approved a resolution to name the corner of Olcott Avenue and 143rd Street "Reverend George C. Muresan Drive."
Muresan, a lifelong resident of the city, graduated from Roosevelt High School and was ordained into the priesthood in 1942.
He served as pastor of St. Nicholas Romanian Byzantine Catholic Church, at Olcott Avenue and 143rd Street, from 1943 to 1994. He also served as pastor of St. Demetrius Church in East Chicago from 1947 to 1957.
The resolution stated Muresan is being honored for his dedication and contributions to the spiritual life of many residents of the city.
Muresan died in 1996 at the age of 80.