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Crackdown On Underage Chesterfield Parties Goes Before City Council

Rockwood's Drug-Free Coalition director encouraged city to support.

Chesterfield's City Council considered stiffer regulation of home gatherings of five people (or more) in which underage people drink alcohol, and there is illegal drug use.

The city council heard the proposal on a "first reading" Monday in a routine legal first step in weighing the measure. Typically, the city would take up the measure again publicly at the next scheduled meeting, July 16, 7pm, City Hall.

Rockwood's Drug-Free Coalition Director Renee Heney called for the city to approve the stepped-up ordinance Monday.

"We need this," Heney said, "for the safety of our youth." She also indicated police calls, noisy parties and perhaps other incidents would have a negative impact on property values.

The trend in such "social host" ordinances is thought to directly address the issue of underage youth partying at home without a parent present, or with parents complicit—collecting car keys or looking the other way—for examples. 

The new ordinance would hold an adult responsible for violations, in addition to the youth.

"We aren't here to stick it to parents who are doing a good job," Heney emphasized. "We hope that five to 10 years down the road, (youth) would feel it's normal not to drink."

"Now, it's almost like a right of passage," Heney said, referring to underage drinking, for example.

n and the city council's Public Health and Safety Committee endorsed a proposed ordinance, according to city documents.

Johnson described the proposal as "nothing new" in terms of enforcement, and some elected officials echoed his statement in Monday's public meetings.

The measure would hold the person responsible for a property liable, whether the person attends the gathering or not.

The costs of police and fire reponses to the gathering would be charged to the responsible person, and potential medical costs for injuries of any first responder. Johnson said employee insurance would still be in play.

A "social host" violation would include a fine for the adult identified as liable.

Chief Johnson said a meeting with led him to propose Chesterfield impose stricter regulations.

He said Chesterfield police had been dealing with such issues for 23 years with the present ordinances, but agreed with prosecutors that a more specific ordinance would be useful.

Heney said there are nine cities that feed into Rockwood, and she would like to see all of them have "the strongest ordinance." Wildwood and Clarkson Valley already passed them she said. Other cities are:

  • Chesterfield
  • Ellisville
  • Ballwin
  • Eureka
  • Fenton
  • Manchester
  • Winchester

The city council had a first reading of the proposed ordinance on Monday, according to agenda items. It would likely be dealt with in subsequent council meetings.

Heney said the Coalition is federally-funded, and operates out of the Rockwood School District facilities.

Jesda Gulati June 16, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Being in a house is much safer than a park or behind an abandoned building somewhere, plus they're much less likely to drive.

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