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City looks to add to nuisance ordinance

City officials are considering adding a whole new section to the joint ordinance about public nuisances which border on criminal activity.

A draft of the amended ordinance was presented to the Winchester Board of Commissioners Tuesday evening to define what City Attorney William Dykeman called “special public nuisances.”

The ordinance, which is based on Fayette County’s, defines such a nuisance as a situation where law enforcement has either arrested or issued a criminal citation more than twice within a 12-month period for activity such as assault, sexual offenses, gambling or any felony. 

Enforcement would be subject to the city’s Administrative Hearing Board. Penalties for violations could be an order to close or vacate the premises and financial penalties of $500 to $5,000.

Those cited can request a hearing before the administrative hearing board, which would be a quasi-judicial process, Dykeman said. The ordinance is aimed to reduce “criminal or almost criminal conduct that’s repetitive,” he said.

The proposed ordinance came from discussions during the downtown master plan process about increased code enforcement in downtown Winchester, Mayor Ed Burtner said. 

The commissioners took no action Tuesday, but City Manager Matt Belcher was directed to set up a committee with representation from law enforcement and the code enforcement office for additional input, as well as representatives from county government.

The commissioners also approved an order to retain attorney Jim Parsons to help the city establish a tax increment financing district for downtown Winchester. The program, would reallocate tax revenue within a defined area to help fund redevelopment in that area, City Commissioner Rick Beach said.

The city previously used a TIF to fund redevelopment at Winchester Plaza and is eager to use it again downtown. 

Winchester Industrial Development Director Todd Denham said the TIF would not generate large amounts of money, but the funds would stay downtown.

“Over time, it will generate enough to help with renovations and projects,” he said.

The exact dimensions of the district have not been determined yet.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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