MASSENA - Mayor James F. Hidy recently told members of the Massena Landlords Association to tell them that a crackdown was coming on enforcement of the village’s nuisance law.
Mr. Hidy called the meeting a positive dialogue.
“It was obvious that the landlords we are targeting with regard to the nuisance law were not present at the meeting,” Mr. Hidy said. “However, the ones who were present were willing to assist the village in mitigating any illicit activities. Furthermore, they recognize their responsibilities in alleviating blight in our nieghborhoods.”
Mr. Hidy said the landlords expressed a willingness to “do whatever possible to enhance the quality of life within our neighborhoods.”
Dennis J. Kemison serves as the president of the Massena Lanlords Association, and he said he agrees with the law to an extent.
“Cracking down as far as the drugs, I’m all for it,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe landlords should be held responsible and potentially fined up to $1,000 per day for the actions of their tenants.
“I’m not in favor of blaming the landlords,” he said. “Personally I feel like people should be held responsible for their own actions.”
Mr. Kemison said he understands the mayor is trying to clean up the village, which is an admirable task, but he has a difference of opinion on how to go about doing so.
“I like him, I really do. I’ve voted for him before, and I’ll vote for him again,” he said. “He thinks the landlords are to blame, but it’s just like it is with the garbage. The landlords don’t want the garbage on their land, just like they don’t want the drugs.”
Mr. Hidy said he heard concerns from the landlords about tenants receiving free attorneys to fight their evictions, while landlords must pay for their own lawyers out of pocket.
Mr. Hidy said the village has already used the nuisance law once and is looking at using it several more times in the near future.
“I did convey to the landlords that now, more than ever, we are going to start implementing and enforcing the nuisance law,” Mr. Hidy said. “We have currently identified three potential cases, where this law may come into play.”
Mr. Kemison said he remains supportive of the law and its enforcement, as long as landlords don’t end up being held responsible for the actions of their tenants.
“I was there when the nuisance law was passed, and I was all for it then. I’m still all for it,” he said.
The law allows landlords to evict tenants for two or more incidents within a year, as defined be the law below.
“Public nuisance.” accordng to the law, “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.”