[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Beacon 10-21-1991 by L.L. No. 7-1991. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Peace and good order — See Ch. 159.
It is unlawful for any structure to be employed or used as specified crime property within the City of Beacon. If a structure is found to be used or employed in violation of this subsection, it is subject to closure for a period of up to one year.
It is unlawful for any person to employ, use, maintain or allow the employment, use or maintenance of structures under their ownership and/or control as specified crime property. If a person is found in violation of this subsection, they are subject to civil penalties of up to $500 per day for each day the property has been so employed, used or maintained.
It is unlawful for any person to use or occupy any structure determined to be specified crime property after service of notice has been made pursuant to § 94-3.
The provisions of Subsection C may be waived by the City in the event that the Chief of Police or a court of competent jurisdiction determines that exigent circumstances are such that the use or occupancy of the structure prior to a full court hearing is mandated.
As used in this chapter, the following terms have the meanings given them in this section.
- CHIEF OF POLICE
- As used in this chapter, includes any person designated by the City of Beacon Chief of Police as his or her delegate in the enforcement of this chapter.
- Any person, agent, firm, corporation, association or partnership, including:
- Any natural person, association, partnership or corporation capable of owning or using property in the City of Beacon.
- SPECIFIED CRIME PROPERTY
- Any kind of structure, edifice, building or unit(s) thereof where activity involving the unauthorized delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance as defined in the Public Health Law, gambling as defined in the Penal Law or prostitution as defined by the Penal Law has occurred or is occurring.
When the Chief of Police believes that a structure has been or is being used or maintained in violation of § 94-1, the Chief of Police may commence proceedings to cause the closure of the structure as well as the imposition of civil penalties against any or all of its owner(s). Except in cases brought pursuant to § 94-5, in the event that the Chief of Police wishes to commence proceedings:
The Chief of Police shall notify the owner(s) of record, in writing, that the structure has been determined to be specified crime property. The notice shall contain the following information:
The street address and a legal description sufficient for identification of the premises on which the structure is located;
A statement that the Chief of Police has found the structure to be in violation of this chapter with a concise description of the conditions leading to his or her findings.
A copy of the notice shall be served on the owner and/or his or her agent, if known, at least 10 days prior to the commencement of any judicial action by the City. Service shall be made either personally or by mailing a copy of the notice by registered or certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt requested, to each person at his or her address as it appears on the last assessment roll as well as on the last instrument of conveyance as recorded in the county where the structure is located and as may be otherwise known to the Chief of Police. If no address appears or is known to the Chief of Police, then a copy shall be mailed first class, postage prepaid, addressed to such person at the address of the structure believed to be specified crime property.
A copy of the notice shall be served on the occupant of the structure if that person is different than the owner and shall occur not less than five days prior to the commencement of any judicial proceeding and be made either personally or by mailing a copy of the notice by first class mail, postage prepaid, to them at the structure. Furthermore, a copy of the notice may be posted at the property if 10 days has elapsed from the service or mailing of the notice to the owner(s) and no contact has been received by the City from them during that period of time.
The failure of any person or owner to receive actual notice of the determination by the Chief of Police shall not invalidate or otherwise affect the proceedings under this chapter.
Concurrent with the notification procedures set forth above, the Chief of Police shall send a copy of the notice to the Mayor as well as any other documentation which he or she believes supports the closure of the structure and the imposition of civil penalties. The Mayor may then authorize the City Attorney's Office to commence civil proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction seeking the closure of the structure as well as the imposition of civil penalties against any or all of the owners thereof and any such other relief as may be deemed appropriate. Nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed to limit the ability of the Mayor prior to the institution of judicial proceedings to enter into agreements with an owner willing to voluntarily abate the condition(s) giving rise to the violation.
Except in a proceeding under § 94-5, if after the commencement but prior to the trial of an action brought by the City pursuant to this chapter, an owner specifically stipulates with the City that they will pursue a course of action as the parties agree will necessarily abate the conditions giving rise to the violation(s), the City shall agree to stay proceedings for a period of not less than 10 nor more than 60 days. The owner or the City may thereafter petition the court for such additional like periods of time as may be necessary to complete the action(s) contemplated by the stipulation. However, in the event that the City reasonably believes the owner is not diligently pursuing the action(s) contemplated by the stipulation, it may then apply to the court for a release from the stay seeking some relief as is deemed appropriate.
In an action seeking the closure of a structure as specified crime property, the City shall have the initial burden of proof to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the structure is a specified crime property.
In an action seeking civil penalties from an owner, the City shall have the initial burden of proof to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the owner had knowledge of activities or conditions at the structure constituting a violation of this chapter.
In any action brought to enforce the terms of § 94-1, evidence of a structure's general reputation and the reputation of persons residing in or frequenting it shall be admissible as competent.
Except in an action brought pursuant to § 94-5B, it is a defense to an action seeking the closure of a structure that the owner of a structure at the time in question could not, in the exercise of reasonable care or diligence, determine that the structure was being used or maintained as a specified crime property.
In establishing the amount of any civil penalty requested, the court may consider any of the following factors, as they may be appropriate, and shall cite those found applicable:
The actions taken by the owner(s) to mitigate or correct the problem at the structure;
The financial condition of the owner;
Whether the problem at the structure was repeated or continuous;
The magnitude or gravity of the problem;
The economic or financial benefit accruing or likely to accrue to the owner(s) as a result of the conditions at the structure;
The cooperativeness of the owner(s) with the City;
The cost to the City of investigating and correcting or attempting to correct the condition;
Any other factor deemed by the court to be relevant.
In the event that it is determined that the structure is an immediate threat to the public safety and welfare, the City may apply to the court for such interim relief that is deemed by the Mayor or City Attorney to be appropriate. In such an event, the notification procedures set forth in § 94-3A and the limitation of § 94-4A need not be complied with.
In the event that the Chief of Police determines that a structure is or has been used as the locale for the manufacture of controlled substances that involve the use of toxic, flammable or explosive substances as defined in 49 CFR 172 (1988) and/or processes that, in the opinion of Police Department or Fire Department personnel, present a continuing threat to the public's safety or welfare, the City may obtain an order from the court preventing that structure's use or occupancy for a period of 60 days.
No person shall enter the structure during the first 20 days of this sixty-day period without first obtaining the prior written approval of the City or an order of the court. After the expiration of this twenty-day period, the owner may enter the structure to clean and decontaminate it in accordance with guidelines established by the Health Department.
After cleaning and/or decontaminating the structure, the owner shall attest in writing on a form to be provided by the City and sent to the Chief of the Beacon Fire Department that the structure has been cleaned and/or decontaminated in accordance with the guidelines, at which time the structure may be reused or reoccupied, provided that it is not otherwise subject to the provisions of the chapter.
In the event that the owner fails to comply with the provisions of Subsection B(2) above, the City may seek an order preventing the use or occupancy of the structure for such further time as, under the circumstances, it deems appropriate, unless the owner shows to the satisfaction of the court that the structure no longer presents a continuing threat to the public's safety or welfare from the toxic, flammable or explosive substances and/or processes.
In the event that a court finds that a structure constitutes specified crime property as defined in this chapter, the court may order that it be closed for any period of up to one year and that the owner(s) pay to the City a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day the owner had knowledge of activities or conditions at the structure constituting a violation of this chapter.
The court may also authorize the City to physically secure the structure against use or occupancy in the event that the owner(s) fail to do so within the time specified by the court. In the event that the City is authorized to secure the property, all costs reasonably incurred by the City to effect a closure shall be made an assessment lien upon the property. As used in this subsection, "costs" means those costs actually incurred by the City for the physical securing of the structure, as well as tenant relocation costs given pursuant to Subsection B(3) of this section.
The City department(s) effecting the closure shall prepare a statement of costs, and the City shall thereafter submit that statement to the court for its review. If no objection to the statement is made within 30 days, a certified copy of the statement, including a legal description of the property, shall be forwarded to the Office of the City Assessor, who thereafter shall enter the same in the City's lien docket.
Liens imposed by this chapter shall be collected in all respects as provided for water and sewer liens and shall bear interest at the rate of 9% per year from 10 days after the entry in the lien docket.
A tenant as defined by the Real Property Tax Law is entitled to his or her reasonable relocation costs as those are determined by the City, if without actual notice the tenant moved into the structure after either:
Any person who is assessed the costs of closure and/or a civil penalty by the court shall be personally liable for the payment thereof to the City.
Owners of a structure determined to be specified crime property may obtain relief from the court's judgment if:
They appear and pay all costs associated with the proceedings under this chapter.
They file a bond in such a place and form as the court may by order direct in an amount not less than the tax-assessed value of the structure; and keep said bond in force for a period of not less than one year or for such period as the court directs.
They enter into a stipulation with the City that they will immediately abate the conditions giving rise to the specified crime property and prevent the same from being established or maintained thereafter. The stipulation will then be made part of the court's file. In the event that the owner violates the terms of the stipulation, the City may thereafter apply to the court for an order awarding up to the entire amount of the aforementioned bond to the City as a penalty as well as such other relief, including closure for any additional period of up to one year, that is deemed by the court as appropriate.
In any action seeking the closure of the structure pursuant to this chapter, the court may, in its discretion, award attorneys' fees to the prevailing party.