Grand Forks City Council members are expected to be presented Monday, Sept. 16, with a pair of resolutions that would decriminalize noisy parties in the city.
The first would make violations of the ordinance a $300 infraction rather than a misdemeanor and a subsequent violation within 12 months an infraction punishable by a fine of $300 to $1,000.
The second resolution would codify separately the penalty for failing to disperse, which police say is a valuable tool at their disposal for breaking up noisy parties. It’s currently a Class B misdemeanor, and the resolution would keep it that way; but, according to City Council member Danny Weigel, it would need to be written up as a separate ordinance because the penalty would remain a criminal, rather than a newly noncriminal, one.
Weigel has been pushing for the change for months. He argues that decriminalizing the noisy party ordinance would allow University of North Dakota police to enforce it themselves instead of calling in Grand Forks city police. Currently, university police aren’t allowed to cite people for criminal violations of a city ordinance, which means decriminalizing it would allow them to do so. Weigel, a UND officer himself, said campus cops have to call city cops to enforce the ordinance a few times each year.
In essence, the new system that’s set to be brought before City Council members next week could mean a fine for the first overly loud get-together broken up by police; a larger fine and potentially a misdemeanor for the second; and, if partiers refuse to stop partying, a misdemeanor for failing to disperse.
To remain unchanged is the definition of a noisy party, which the city defines as any party or “gathering” consisting of two or more people that gives rise to “unreasonable noise likely to cause significant discomfort or annoyance to a reasonable person of normal sensitivities present in the area, in consideration of the time of day and the residential character of said area or building.”