Proposed Law To Bring Down Meth Makers In Elmira

03.21.14 | Bob Price

A proposed change in Elmira’s nuisance law could make it quicker to take action against properties that are involved in the manufacture of methamphetamines and other illegal conduct.

“It does make it easier for enforcement,” City Manager Kimberlee Balok Middaugh said during Thursday’s Elmira City Council workshop.

“It lowers the burden that we need to establish for determining that there was a public nuisance,” she said. “Before, it required a conviction, and now it’s a violation, which has much less of a burden.”

Under proposed revisions, the city can seek a temporary closing order, closing order, temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, permanent injunction, civil penalties and other actions against any property based on evidence of a public nuisance, such as methamphetamines or amphetamines being illegally manufactured there.

If City Council amends the local law, it will expedite the ability to bring action against a landlord, said John Ryan Jr., the city’s corporation counsel.

“When you wait for a conviction, it can be a year, a year and a half after the actual arrest before the conviction occurs, so you couldn’t do anything until you’ve had convictions,” he said.

“If there were multiple apartments, the local law provides a shutdown for either part of the premises or the entire premises, depending upon the circumstances,” Ryan said.

The law was adopted in 2001 and amended in 2005, he said.

Councilman Dan Royle, D-5th District, asked why City Council did not use violations instead of convictions when the law was first enacted.

“An allegation is much different than a conviction, and the concern was basing a shutdown solely on an allegation as opposed to a conviction,” Ryan said.

“Binghamton has had experience with this same thing,” he said. “Binghamton has had success using violations, as opposed to convictions.”

Public nuisances also include violations of state penal and alcoholic beverage control laws, assault, homicide, sex offenses, kidnapping, gambling, prostitution and offenses against children, the elderly and the disabled. Also included is the occurrence of multiple code violations.