Farmington approves ordinance cracking down on parties

Dan Schwartz The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday that allows police to hold more people accountable at loud parties where underage teens are drinking alcohol.

Farmington Sgt. Baric Crum said the ordinance closes a loophole. When police bust a party, they can't arrest teenagers for underage drinking unless they are holding an alcoholic drink in their hands. But the new ordinance, introduced by Councilor Dan Darnell, allows police to hold the person in charge of a party accountable.

"Ultimately this ordinance is another tool in our tool bag," Crum said.

The ordinance will become effective Aug. 5. City Council discussed it in four public meetings before adopting it Tuesday evening.

Since Darnell introduced it, councilors made three major revisions to the ordinance.

They agreed to strike out a section that would have made it illegal for an owner, tenant or occupant of any lot, tract or parcel to allow "weeds, refuse, non-operating vehicles, junk or appliances" to be located on his or her property.

Crum said the police department will submit another ordinance for consideration by council that would cover this section. The deleted section would have allowed police to take enforcement action on tenants at mobile homes, but a loophole remained, he said. Often, utilities are listed under one name in mobile home parks, and current city code allows police to only take enforcement action on the utility holder — even if his tenants are creating the nuisance, he said.

Another revision protects the public, Darnell said. It specifies that a person or people responsible at a party must "knowingly" contribute to an underage or unruly gathering.

The last major revision lists an adult as someone 18 or older, instead of 21 or older.

Darnell said at first he worried the ordinance's language was too narrow, but the process to revise it went well.

"I'm happy with it," he said.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.