City Targets Keene Activist Center with Hundreds Per Day in Fines

smokeDetector[1]As you may recall, last June the Keene Activist Center was raided by code enforcement and the fire department. They contend it was being operated as a “lodginghouse” or “tourist home” and cited claims posted online in early 2012 by former tenants to make their case to the judge to receive the search warrant. Despite having no evidence the current tenants at the time of the raid were doing the same things the previous tenants were, they issued a “NOTICE OF VIOLATION” in September. I challenged that notice by responding that the judge (Burke) is biased against Free State Project participants and should recused himself, invalidating his warrant.

Later in the year in December I received an “ORDINANCE VIOLATION” from the fire department. In it, they allege that I am in violation of the city’s smoke detector ordinance 2-2011-02. It appears the ridiculous ordinance in question requires all homes in Keene to have multiple smoke detectors, all hooked to AC power, and all interconnected (meaning if one goes off, they all go off).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never lived in or heard of a home that has a system like that. I can see the benefit in having one smoke detector on each floor, and the KAC has that, but the rest of the ordinance is ludicrous and who knows what it would cost to have AC-powered interconnected detectors installed in a home. I suspect most homes in Keene do not have such a system. Does yours?

Fred ParsellsIt’s pretty clear that I am being targeted because of my activism. Fred Parsells, one of the city’s code enforcers, has told me that he thinks I’m going to leave Keene. His continued campaign of harassment against me and my tenants is clearly designed to encourage me to leave through constant threats and court engagement.

I responded to their “ORDINANCE VIOLATION” and contested their violation to district court. I received a “SUMMONS” to come to court for an arraignment on a criminal town ordinance violation for the smoke detector issue. I showed up and a trial date was set for 5/29 at 10am. I then filed the following:

We’ll see where this goes from here, but my house is on the line and may have racked up many thousands of dollars in fines by this point – I am not certain. I have very little experience dealing with fines involving real estate. Perhaps my quick responses to their notices of violation froze the number of days they can count, or perhaps not. By the time trial comes around, that number could be over $180,000 – more than the city’s assessed value for the property. (A value “the city of Keene” refused to reduce in an abatement request this year, despite homes selling nearby for half their assessed value in 2012.)

Now you can subscribe to Free Keene via email!

Don't miss a single post!

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x