WILTON — Fights, loud music, yelling — and police say it’s almost always at the same few properties.

Police say it’s not unusual for them to get called out several times each week to deal with complaints from residents about the same handful of tenants in town.

Police Chief Heidi Wilcox said responding frequently to the same properties because of the same problems is a waste of the small police force’s limited resources.

Residents will decide Monday at the annual Town Meeting whether to approve an ordinance aimed at reducing how often police respond to a residence generating multiple complaints.

The “disorderly property” ordinance would require property owners to meet with Wilcox and other town representatives if police are called there for complaints more than four times in 30 days. If problems persists, property owners then would have to pay a $50 fine.

The proposed ordinance says it’s designed to prevent “chronic unlawful and nuisance activity” by giving the police chief the ability to intervene and enforce consequences. The ordinance also says police need to determine that complaints about a “disorderly event” at a given property are substantiated before counting it against the property owner. Such disorderly events include public intoxication and excessive noise.

After meeting with the town officials, the property owner would need to sign a written agreement promising to address the problem. If the owner refuses to address the problem, he or she would be issued the $50 fine.

Wilcox said various town officials, members of the Police Advisory Committee and police officers have been discussing a possible solution for a while. The proposed ordinance also was based on similar ordinances in other communities, she said.

The high volume of police calls is a burden for a small police department with a full-time staff of just a chief, a sergeant and three patrol officers, Wilcox said.

“It utilizes a tremendous amount of resources and takes officers away from other tasks,” she said.

Landlords sometimes might be unaware of how often police respond to a tenant’s apartment, Wilcox said, and the proposed ordinance might help keep them informed.

Eric Conrad, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association, said Wilton is among a handful of municipalities that are considering a such an ordinance or already have one. Bar Harbor, Biddeford, Orono, Rockland, South Portland and Westbrook have enacted a similar ordinance, while Bangor is considering such rules, Conrad said.

Some landlords resisted such policies at first, Conrad said, but police have addressed uneasiness by working with landlords to correct problems before enforcing penalties.

“It’s fair to say there was a bit of skepticism, but the landlords are finding it may be useful,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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