Anti-party ordinance suggested

Logan Township leaders are interested in an ordinance that could address reoccurring collegiate parties with a hefty fine for landlords or by suspending or ending the landlord’s rental rights.

Solicitor Larry Clapper said he has been researching the options and forwarded materials to supervisors.

It will be up to supervisors to decide if they want to take action, Clapper said.

“Because of a few, we have to do something,” Supervisor Joe Metzgar said.

Supervisors were upset with the behavior of Penn State Altoona students arrested during a Sept. 28 party at the Nittany Pointe housing complex. Multiple students were charged with underaged drinking and public drunkeness. A student who climbed a water tower while others chanted his name was charged with reckless endangerment because the United Fire Department was summoned to help him get down.

It was the second time in six months – the last being April 6 – that township police officers responded to reports of a large outdoor party and made arrests.

Clapper said the township can legally adopt an ordinance applicable to collegians and landlords who rent to them. Federal court rulings have been supportive of such laws, the solicitor said.

While that addresses a concern about landlords who rent to non-collegians, Supervisor Jim Patterson asked how the township can answer landlords who say it’s not fair to hold them responsible for what their tenants or their tenants’ visitors do.

Clapper said an ordinance could be written so it takes more than one incident to generate consequences.

And landlords, Clapper said, could write provisions into their leases to control tenant behavior and threaten eviction for lack of compliance. Some landlords already have such provisions, Supervisor Ed Frontino said.

If there’s no incentive for a landlord to stop the behavior of their tenants, then they’re just going to keep collecting the rent, Clapper said.

Supervisors Chairman Frank Meloy said he thinks the board needs to take whatever action it can to address the inappropriate behavior involving a minority of the Penn State Altoona students.

While the City of Milwaukee has the authority to bill a landlord for the cost of two police calls after the second call to a specific property has generated noise citations, Clapper said that’s not possible in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, Clapper said, municipalities cannot charge their residents for police time because that cost has been paid for through the collection of taxes.

So we’d have to change state law, Supervisor Dave Rhoa said.

Supervisors also said they have little interest in the recently proposed idea of employing college students as auxiliary police officers patrolling in uniform to deter crime by their presence or to report potential trouble.

Altoona Mayor Bill Schirf offered the suggestion to the Altoona and Logan Township police departments, based on a 9-year-old partnership between Penn State University police, State College police and the Downtown Improvement District.

“I just don’t think we want to get involved,” Frontino said. “We already know where our problems are.”

“I agree,” Rhoa said. “There’s a world a difference between Altoona Campus and University Park. I don’t believe it would work here.”

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.