GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission passed an emergency resolution Tuesday evening which would hold landowners responsible for residents who prove to be reportedly continuing criminal nuisances.
The legislation is modeled after a similar such ordinance in Huntington, W.Va., said City Solicitor Adam Salisbury, but while the Huntington law features a two strike feature, the newly created Gallipolis ordinance features a three strike feature.
“The ordinance that I was asked to put on for this evening has to do with residential structures exhibiting persistent criminal activity,” said Salisbury. “This is kind of a reworking of the Huntington ordinance that we discussed several times. It expands the Huntington ordinance but it’s also a little less severe. The ordinance that we were looking at included any premises used for prostitution, illegal gambling, and then possession, storage, delivery and trafficking of illegal substances. I also added (into the proposed Gallipolis ordinance) any events of violence as that term is defined within the (Ohio) Revised Code.”
In order to qualify within one of the reported instances of criminal conduct, the previously reported offense of a tenant will have to have been punishable by up to six months in prison, said the commission’s counsel. The area of offense was often dubbed in the ordinance as the “nuisance” area in question. A home made up of multiple units would not be held accountable for actions held in it, save the offending unit.
The third time a criminal act is found, that is when the provisions of the ordinance will “kick in,” said Salisbury. Notices of incidents are sent to a property owner.
“At that time, the city manager is going to ask (a property owner) to implement reasonable and warranted abatement measures,” said Salisbury. “The city manager will work with you and so will code enforcement with that property owner in a way that’s agreeable (between all parties). Then, if the owner fails to implement the abatement procedure, at that time, either the chief of police or (designated agent of the city manager) can bring the public nuisance abatement to the municipal court.”
Penalties found against the property owner can potentially result in $1000 fines, stacking for multiple occurrences.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.