New Castle considers municipal court ‘contempt’ penalties
Post Independent staff
NEW CASTLE — The Town Council meets Tuesday to take final action on a new law that would allow the municipal judge to levy fines and other penalties linked with contempt of court citations.
The proposed ordinance was brought to the council by Municipal Judge Amanda Maurer, an attorney in Glenwood Springs, who noted that there was no provision in the municipal code to cover “charges or penalties arising out of contempt of an order from the municipal court.”
The town’s codes also lacked penalty provisions, Maurer noted, for failing to appear at a required court hearing or other proceeding.
To remedy this situation, the town has given initial approval to an ordinance giving the judge the authority to find those appearing before her “in contempt for failing to follow or abide by a lawful order or act of the court.”
Those guilty of contempt of court, according to the new law, can be fined up to $1,000 and be jailed for up to 10 days.
For failing to appear at a hearing or other proceeding, after being directed to do so by a summons, the suspect is liable to a misdemeanor conviction.
Maurer could not be reached on Friday to further discuss her reasons for proposing the ordinance.
In other action, the council will consider an ordinance to change the amount of “payment in lieu” to be charged to developers who cannot provide the number of off-street parking spaces required for residential or commercial developments in the C-1 commercial zoning district in town.
The town has been requiring a “cash-in-lieu” fee of $9,000 per off-street parking space for new residential development since 2005, according to a memo from planner Tim Cain to the council.
“But it’s really a moot point,” Cain said, because there is an ongoing moratorium on off-street parking requirements for commercial development, and there has been no residential development in the affected zone district, for several years.
The reason for the ordinance, he said, is for the town to be prepared for a future resumption of development when the economy improves and the town once again has the need for off-street parking regulations.
In his recommendation to the council, Cain noted, “Because the valuations of properties have declined significantly in the last four years, it appears we need to revise the cash-in-lieu fee [to] $3,000 per parking space.”
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