Beech Grove mayor says more public nuisance declarations are possible

(WISH Photo)

BEECH GROVE, Ind. (WISH) — Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley said more local properties could face public nuisance declarations, including some residences and a gas station.

City officials have already declared two local businesses public nuisances this summer: a Motel 6 and, as of last week, a Wal-Mart, both due to frequent criminal activity on the properties
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The declaration means the businesses could face fines from police if officers are called to the property in the future.

Buckley said suspected criminal activity is prompting officials to consider the same move for a Shell gas station near the Motel 6.

Buckley said the public nuisance declaration prompted Motel 6 management to add security and start doing background checks on the customers. He said crime has reduced drastically on the property, which was deemed a public nuisance in June.

He’s hoping for similar results with Wal-Mart.

Store officials announced they’d be hiring off-duty officers last month after a video of a fight between customers made national headlines. But Buckley said the store still needs to beef up security.

“Friday or Saturday, there was a police officer there from 10 in the morning until noon,” he said. “Two hours. Why? I don’t understand that. They should be at those doors all the time. And let people see them.”

He said security should be checking people’s bags and receipts, and management needs to crack down panhandling outside the store.

Police have been called to the store more than 1,000 times over the past two years.

“They just keep coming in here and messing around, man,” shopper Brock Harrell said.

Harrell said the public nuisance declaration is the right move for Wal-Mart. He said he hopes the fear of a fine could prompt the store to fix their problems.

“It’s kind of a nuisance not just for the Wal-Mart, but for the whole community where people have to work and live and shop. People have kids and they don’t want to see that kind of thing,” he said.

The fines could run up to $2,500 plus court costs.

But shopper Emmett Stuck said that won’t stop crime at the store.

“You’re not going to stop it. People are going to be people no matter what,” he said. “It’s nobody’s fault. Just the way people are.”

Buckley said some Beech Grove homes have already been declared public nuisances and he said some others could face the same fate. He said home owners could face the penalties if police are frequently getting called to their home or if their property is in poor condition.

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