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Massena village board adopts nuisance law

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MASSENA - The village of Massena now has a nuisance law on its books that will help make it easier for landlords in the village to evict problem tenants.

“This law will allow the village to take action on properties being used for illegal or illicit activities,” Mayor James F. Hidy said as he opened a public hearing on the proposed law.

Massena Village Police Chief Timmy J. Currier agreed, “This addresses the voids we have,” he said, adding there is a hearing process included in the law that would give landlords an opportunity to fight any claims made against their properties if they choose to do so.

“It’s a very fair law, and I think it will go a long way toward solving the issues we have in the village,” he said.

During the hearing, several Massena residents spoke, both thanking the police department and other local law enforcement agencies for their efforts and also to say they support the law and hope it works.

“It’s no fun living across the street from Patrick Lloyd,” Rowene Lett said of life on Haskell Street. Mr. Lloyd is currently being held on an attempted kidnapping count and has been arrested several times since moving to Massena from New York City.

Terry Gillespie lives on Dodge Street and he said he’s optimistic the law will help improve his neighborhood.

“Yesterday there were two drug deals in broad daylight on the corner of Beech Street,” he said. “Personally, if they come on my property I’m going to take care of them and if they touch her (his wife), forget about it.”

Mr. Gillespie said he’s lived in the same Massena neighborhood for 23 years and didn’t have any problems until recently.

“I’ve never had any problems until “they” moved in,” he said, adding he goes to work at approximately 3:30 in the morning each day.

“They’re up and they’re trying to intimidate me,” he said. “They think we’re afraid of them, but we’re not.”

Mr. Hidy said that with Mr. Lloyd and several others currently in jail, problems in the village seem to have subsided, at least for now.

“Things seem to have slowed down a bit,” he said. “We’ve spoken with the judges, and they’re in favor of this.”

Mr. Hidy also said he thinks the district attorney’s office, an office that he has been an open critic of in recent months , may have finally gotten the message that Massena’s not messing around.

“I think the DA has finally got the message,” he said, referring to Nicole Duve.

“If you’re a landlord I’m not going to tell you how to make your money, but I am saying be a little more cognizant of who you rent to,” Mr. Hidy said.

Mr. Currier said that while absentee landlords may take issue with the law the way the it is written is fair to “good landlords. “The way this is written allows us to work with any good intenioned landlord,” he said.

Trustee Patricia K. Wilson agreed, “This is to help the landlords.”

“If there are issues with people who are constantly getting arrested at an address, we can close a property immediately and evict them people,” she said.

And while the law isn’t quite that simple, it does streamline the process that one landlord in attendance said can take more than a year to just a few weeks.

Full copies of the nine-page law are available at the village clerk’s office located at the town hall.

Such hearings may be enacted following two criminal convictions for any of the activities included in the definition of public nuisance or two or more “incidents within one year” that fit the definition of public nuisance.

According to the definitions portion of the bill there are 10 ways a building could fall subject to the law.

“Public nuisance includes, but shall not be limited to:

1) Any building, structure or real property used for the purpose of illegal use, possession or distribution of a controlled substance or marijuana as defined by the state penal law.

2) Any building, structure or real property used for the purposes of prostitution as defined by the state penal law.

3) Any building, structure or real property used for the purposes of indecency, obscene performances and/or promotion of obscene materials as defined by the state penal law and this code.

4) Any building, structure or real property used for the purpose of the of illegal gambling activity as defined in the state penal law.

5) Any building, structure or real property used for the purpose of the commission of illegal possession, use or sale of firearms, or weapons as defined by the state penal law.

6) Any building, structure or real property used for the purpose of illegal sale, manufacture or consumption of alcohol beverages as defined by the state alcohol beverage control law.

7) Any building, structure or real property wherein there exists or has occurred a criminal nuisance as defined by the state penal law.

8) Any building, structure or real property used for the purpose of loitering as defined by the state penal law.

9) Any building, structure or real property wherein there exists or has occurred any violation of this code, including, but not limited to, Chapter 92 (Animal Control), Chapter 300 (Zoning), and the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, including the Property Maintenance Code of New York State, and any subsequent amendments or superseding provisions thereto, all of which have been previously adopted and incorporated into this code by reference.

10) Any building, structure or real property wherein an occupant, guest or business invitee commits criminal activities involving assault, gang assault, harassment or disorderly conduct, as said criminal activities are defined by the state penal law.”

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