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Baraboo committee addresses problem properties, vaping

February 27, 2018 GMT

Ordinance changes coming before the Baraboo Common Council on Tuesday would expand the city’s description of premises that qualify as chronic nuisances, giving police steps to follow when handling repeated calls to certain addresses.

On Monday, the council’s Public Safety Committee voted 3-0 to approve the ordinance changes, sending them to the full council. Also Tuesday, the council will consider proposals to expand Baraboo Valley Veterinary Clinic, rezone and develop vacant property for Balanced Rock Winery, and convert a downtown commercial building into a photography studio and bed and breakfast.

New wording in the ordinance governing problem properties would add nuisances offending morals, decency, peace and safety to the city’s list of no-no’s, along with offenses related to disposal of waste and recyclables. Examples could include nuisances like loud parties and safety hazards like large bonfires.

“It just allows violations that fall into these categories to be addressed,” said City Attorney Emily Truman.

Other changes recommended Monday would lower the maximum fine for a first offense from $1,000 to $500, but would increase the maximum fine for subsequent offenses from $500 to $1,000. Truman noted that by the time a property – typically a rental unit – fits the city’s description of a chronic nuisance, police have visited multiple times.

“These folks have had plenty of opportunities to have the behaviors change,” said council member Tom Kolb.

Police Chief Mark Schauf said he’s had problems with six properties, and in each case he was able to work through problems with landlords. Citations haven’t been necessary.

Also Monday, the Public Safety Committee voted 3-0 to expand a ban on smoking in city-owned buildings to include vaping and the use of smokeless tobacco and herbal cigarettes. The change reflects new products that weren’t on the market when the city banned smoking in its buildings in 1993, and is set to take effect before the staff occupies new offices on South Boulevard this spring.