OAKLAND CITY — Attorney Jason Spindler is working on a potential ordinance for Oakland City after recurring issues with a property in town.
The ordinance would prohibit extended use of a portable generator in a non-emergency situation. Spindler also recommended to the city council that there be an addition allowing for usage, even when there is no power outage, for an interval each day.
“What I’ve started is an ordinance that allows a generator to be ran if there’s a power outage in that area,” Spindler said.
The property at 218 West Oak Street runs a generator continuously, according to Oakland City officials and other Oak Street residents who have approached the city to complain.
The proposed ordinance would give the city guidelines for how to handle the situation and make clear-cut rules for residents who may choose to use a generator.
Violating the ordinance poses the possibility of a monetary fine, which Spindler said he feels is satisfied in an ordinance already on the books.
“We’ve got a general fine ordinance that I think catches everything that’s not specifically addressed,” he said. “We can make a fine for this particular ordinance, but if we don’t have it in there, then we go to the general fine which I think is $200 or $250.”
Asked if a generator could be removed from the property after continued offenses, Spindler was hesitant to confirm whether city government's arm extends that far.
Council member A.J. Cooper was also hesitant to approve the inclusion of that in an ordinance to consider.
“Jason you’re going to have to come to me and tell me for sure legally we can do that before I can agree,” he said. “I feel for the neighbors and what’s going on, but I want to make sure we legally can do that, and our police officers can legally do that, and we’re not threatening some kind of law.”
Police Chief Tim Gaines and Spindler said they don't believe they could legally do it.
“What I can say, is if we get a judge’s approval, I’d be ok with it,” Spindler said. “It would be case-by-case.”
This would mean the city petition the court on the basis that a resident is breaking the ordinance and there has been no success getting their attention through other means. The city would ask the court’s permission to then go onto the property and remove the generator and store it, not dispose of it.
Spindler said that would not need to be written in the ordinance specifically, but the city would do an ordinance enforcement motion in the court.
Spindler said he would present a draft of the potential ordinance at the next meeting, including additions for generators used in construction purposes and a specific interval of time when a generator can be run when there is no power outage.