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Judge strikes Bloomington smoke-detector ordinance; similar measure pends in Indy

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A judge’s recent ruling that struck a Bloomington ordinance requiring hard-wired smoke detectors in rental properties comes as the Indianapolis City-County Council considers raising the requirements for all dwellings in Marion County.

Monroe Circuit Judge E. Michael Hoff ruled Feb. 10 that Bloomington’s ordinance was unenforceable because it conflicted with the state’s smoke-detector statute.

Indiana Code 22-11-18-3.5 states that all smoke detectors must be battery operated or hard-wired into the dwelling’s electrical system. “However, the City’s new smoke detector ordinance prohibits battery operated smoke detectors,” Hoff wrote. “For that reason, the City’s ordinance is not enforceable.”

Cohen & Malad P.C. attorney Michael McBride represented Bloomington landlords who opposed the ordinance that would have required the hard-wired devices installed by 2018.
He said Hoff’s ruling came exactly three years after Hoff voided another Bloomington ordinance requiring minimum window sizes, where McBride also represented property owners.

Hoff ruled the Bloomington smoke-detector ordinance could not be enforced without prior approval of the Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission.

“It’s commendable what they’re trying to do – they’re trying to save lives,” McBride said. “The question is what hoops do you have to jump through.  … Is it good to enact an ordinance, or is this something (cities) should push to the commission to change state law?”

Indianapolis’ proposed ordinance drafted in late 2013 would require all dwellings in Marion County to have smoke detectors with 10-year non-replaceable batteries or hard-wired devices by July. The ordinance since has been referred back to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee.

 

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

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