LEWISTON — The City Council approved ordinances aimed at cracking down on loud parties and other noisy disturbances Tuesday, perhaps dashing the hopes of college students while pleasing their neighbors. 

Final reading on the separate “nuisance party” and city noise ordinances were unanimously approved with little to no public discussion.

The new rules have taken shape over a number of months, in tandem with discussions among residents of the Bates College neighborhood, college administration, and city and police officials regarding disturbances around the school. 

However, the new ordinances on the books are effective citywide. 

The ordinance lays out a strict scale of fines for violations, including a $300 first-offense price tag for tenants. After a second violation, the landlord is also subject to at least $500 in fines if they don’t take action to stop the tenants’ activities. 

A number of neighbors and Bates College students, who had been missing from previous conversations, spoke out during the ordinance’s first reading in September

Students said the ordinance was too excessive. One asked the city to give them a chance to prove they can be respectful neighbors without the ordinance. 

In response to the concerns, Police Chief Brian O’Malley said the department would only use the ordinance as a tool to “gain compliance” from students. He said officers would use discretion and wouldn’t simply hand out summonses without first witnessing behavior.

But, even those who attend the party could face $100 fines after being told to leave.

As for the noise ordinance, certain loud noises would become an offense under city ordinances. City Administrator Ed Barrett said the only existing noise restrictions on the books were in the land-use code and were directed at commercial and industrial operations. 

The council also passed the first reading Tuesday on various amendments to city codes regarding lodging houses, a license that allows a number of tenants to occupy a single building based on heightened code requirements.

The discussion over lodging houses sparked the public debate and led to a push from residents for the city to take action to curb disturbances, especially in the area of Davis and White streets. The council had previously passed, then extended, a six-month moratorium blocking new licenses. 

The council on Tuesday approved various amendments to its licensing, land use and fire codes to make language concerning lodging houses consistent across the board.

The changes also create an overlay district where lodging houses would be prohibited. That district includes White and Davis streets, where neighbors have been the most outspoken. 

Final readings on the lodging house amendments will take place Oct. 17. 

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