Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Amherst Town Meeting members vote to increase fines for bylaw violations

Candace C. Cusic/Chicago Tribune/MCT

Students and residents in Amherst who choose to carry open containers, unlicensed kegs or hold raucous gatherings this year may have to open their wallets up a bit wider.

Amended regulations to the town’s general by laws have increased the fines for offenses concerning unlawful noise, possession of open alcoholic containers on public ways and possession of kegs without a proper license.

These new stipulations, which were adopted at last May’s Town Meeting by a majority of Amherst’s roughly 260 Town Meeting members, flatline the fines to $300 per offense.  Previously, fines for some of the offenses were as low as $50 and as high as $300 for repeated violations.

Amherst Chief of Police Scott Livingstone said he is hoping that the increased fines will deter residents and students from violating the regulations.

“It’s a little too early to tell,” Livingstone said of the desired effect of the increased fines, noting that the school year is just getting into full swing, “but time will tell.”

The wording for the amended regulations, Livingstone said, was written in cooperation with the Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce High-Risk Drinking, an organization comprised of community and school members based at the University of Massachusetts. Neighboring towns Hadley and Sunderland have adopted regulations similar to those of Amherst, he added.

Before this year’s changes, fines in Amherst’s bylaws had remained relatively stagnant, Livingstone said.  The maximum fine one previously had to pay for carrying an open container on public property was $50, and the fines for making excessive noise or carrying an unlicensed keg ranged from $100 to $300 – with the latter fine only applying to repeat offenders.

Three hundred dollars, Livingstone added, is the maximum fine that municipalities in Massachusetts can charge for such offenses.

In order to remain compliant with the regulations, students and residents who intend to possess kegs must seek and be granted a license from the town. People must also refrain from making excessive noise – which includes playing loud music, shouting or yelling during the nighttime, and having a rowdy pet.  Students and residents must also not possess open containers of alcohol on any public ways – which include streets, sidewalks and school grounds.

Livingstone reiterated his point that his main goal with the new stipulations is to discourage the unlawful behavior from occurring.

“We are really hopeful that [the increases in fines] will have some deterrence,” Livingstone said.

While many community members agree with Livingstone’s sentiment, the consensus among a handful of UMass graduate students wasn’t quite as optimistic.

“I don’t think it’s going to stop anyone,” said Jason Heuer, a first-year graduate student.

Jasmin Curtis, also a first-year graduate student, agreed with Heuer.  But Curtis, who also completed her undergraduate studies at UMass, said she will wait to see if the outcome does change.

“We’ll see what happens,” she said.

William Perkins can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D

    DianaOct 2, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Anyone who is not already registerd to vote at their Amherst address should do so immediately. The time is now. According to the Amherst Bulletin, someone got a $300 fine for excessive noise at 11PM on a Saturday night. Give me a break. The time is now.

  • M

    MarcusOct 2, 2010 at 1:23 am

    Justin, it’s along those lines. It will have no real detrimental effect and in all likelihood will make things worse. Biting the hand that feeds me is probably a better social law to apply. Sure there’s a middle ground that needs to be maintained but I don’t think town meeting members fully appreciate how much a part of the community students are in these tough economic times. Unlike a lot of other customer bases, students keep on buying.

  • A

    AcaciaOct 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Interesting…how the fine of carrying an open container is now 3x more than carrying less than an ounce of weed.

  • J

    JustinOct 1, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Livingstone and the other meeting members really think this will have a deterrence effect?! Is’nt there a law of depreciating values or something like that which tells anybody with half a brain that such an increase will have no effect?!

    This, in fact, has incited me to go crack a cold one on the steps of Town Hall.

    I’m a senior, so I cannot partake- but I call on all students with a year or more left to get elected as town meeting members and take over this towns outrageous little government.