New London considers adopting social host ordinance
NEW LONDON -- The New London City Council is considering adopting an ordinance that would hold adults responsible for hosting parties where alcohol is provided to underage individuals.
Representatives from New London will be attending a meeting Monday with representatives from Kandiyohi County and the city of Spicer to discuss developing an ordinance that could be adopted by the cities and enforced by police.
The council agreed Wednesday to pursue the issue.
Kandiyohi County was on the cutting edge of the trend to make adults responsible when they knowingly host drinking parties for kids on their property -- even if they didn't provide the alcohol.
In 2007 Kandiyohi County amended its ordinance on parties and gatherings to include language making it a violation for property owners to host parties involving alcohol and minors.
The county was the first in the state to implement a social host ordinance.
That ordinance covers rural areas of the county but is not enforced in the incorporated communities of New London, Spicer, Atwater or Willmar.
Willmar adopted its own ordinance, which differs from the county's ordinance, Willmar Police Chief Jim Kulset said.
Since Kandiyohi County broke ground on the issue three years ago, two other counties and about 45 cities have adopted a social host ordinance, said Laura Lindeman, Kandiyohi County's Drug Free Communities grant coordinator.
Lindeman said she will provide the working group from New London and Spicer with a number of sample social host ordinances, including one supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
As more Minnesota communities have worked on the social host ordinance and passed a variety of versions, including some that have been tested in the courts, the ordinance wording has evolved, Lindeman said.
New London City Clerk Trudie Guptill said the City Council there is interested in adopting a social host ordinance but some felt the county ordinance was not strong enough in some areas and was too invasive in others.
She said it is hoped the participating cities can adopt a uniform ordinance, which would make it easier for deputies to enforce. New London and Spicer contract for police service from the county Sheriff's Department.
The city of Atwater was also invited to participate in the process -- including the first meeting Monday -- but the invitation was made too late to be considered this week by the Atwater City Council. Atwater has its own Police Department that would enforce a social host ordinance if one is adopted there.
Lindeman said Kandiyohi County received a federal grant for the purpose of strengthening the local alcohol, tobacco and other drugs coalition and to reduce substance use and abuse in the county. She said the federal program encourages communities to pass policies, like the social host ordinance.
Lindeman said she is serving as a resource to assist the cities in the process, including educating participants about the dangers of underage drinking, why adults shouldn't provide alcohol to minors, the importance of a social host ordinance and options for draft ordinances to consider adopting.
In other action this week in New London:
- The council was informed that a joint powers agreement for the New London-Spicer Community Recreation program will be revised. The last update took place in 1990.
- In response to the completion of the county's hazard mitigation plan, the city is planning to conduct a "tabletop" disaster drill on scenarios such as a tornado at the nursing home or a chemical spill on Main Street to help determine if the plan is workable.
- Scott Balay, a member of the New London Boy Scout troop, was given permission to make improvements at the Densen ball field for his Eagle Scout project. The council agreed to provide up to $700 in funding for materials for part of the project.
- A bid of $5,194 from Lake Region Construction was approved to replace the roof on the park shelter at the Mill Pond swimming beach.