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Drops on Islamic Center may limit new balconies

Posted at 7:32 PM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 22:32:29-04
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Buildings around UA could look different as a result of trouble between a high rise dorm and the Islamic Center.
Surveillance video shows bottles and other objects dropped into the Islamic Center's parking lot from a high rise dorm just behind the center.  That particular video happened before new owners took over the building. 
There have been a few cases since then.
Now Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik is working to change zoning laws to restrict balconies on new buildings near UA.
Falling objects from a building ten stories tall are more than a prank.  They could kill someone.
The City of Tucson, and the Islamic Center worked with the previous owner of the buildings now called Sol Y Luna to stop residents from dropping items and there were some evictions.
The new owner has warned residents not to drop anything off the balconies.
Islamic Center spokesman Mamoud Obagi says things have quieted down even with worries there could be new harassment after the Brussels attacks.
"So we see more incidents either when there happens to be a horrific attack or when there's new students moving into the high rises."
The Center says trouble tends to pick up when a new semester brings new students who might not know the rules.
To be truly safe, the Center would like the owners to close the balconies altogether.
A spokesperson for the company that owns these buildings says it has set up cameras to catch people dropping items off the balconies and has been very firm about evicting them including someone who dropped items off the opposite side of the building nowhere near the Islamic Center. But he says as for the idea of closing off the balconies permanently, he says that would be unfair to the responsible residents.
Councilmember Steve Kozachik would still like to shut down those balconies.  He's heard another high rise dorm could go up in range of the Center so he'd like to head off future trouble by changing city zoning to limit balconies on new buildings to no higher than the third floor.
He says the city can't force building owners to close existing balconies.
"But I already have the City Attorney on board and he says the next time we have an incident there we are going to file criminal nuisance charges against the ownership, not the kid who threw it, and force them into court to demonstrate to a judge to show what they have done to stop this from happening again."
He says the nuisance charge must wait for a new incident, City Council could decide on the zoning change in about two months.