Town of Amherst, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Amherst 6-5-2017 by L.L. No. 13-2017. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Noise — See Ch. 138.
The title of this law shall be "Social Host Liability."
A. 
The Town Board, pursuant to the police powers delegated to it by the New York State Municipal Home Rule Law, has the authority to enact laws which promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of its residents;
B. 
The occurrence of loud or unruly gatherings on private property where alcoholic beverages are served to or consumed by underage persons is harmful to the underage persons themselves and a threat to public health, safety, quiet enjoyment of residential property and general welfare;
C. 
Underage persons often obtain alcoholic beverages at gatherings held at private residences or at rented residential and commercial premises that are under the control of a person who knows or should know of the underage service and/or consumption. Persons responsible for the occurrence of loud or unruly gatherings on private property over which they have possession or control have failed to ensure that alcoholic beverages are neither served to nor consumed by underage persons at these parties;
D. 
Landlords have failed to prevent the occurrence or reoccurrence of loud or unruly gatherings, including those where alcoholic beverages are served to or consumed by underage persons, on private property they lease to tenants, which seriously disrupts the quiet enjoyment of neighboring residents;
E. 
Problems associated with loud or unruly gatherings at which alcoholic beverages are served to or consumed by underage persons are difficult to prevent and deter unless the Amherst Police Department has the legal authority to direct the host to disperse the gathering;
F. 
Control of loud or unruly gatherings on private property where alcoholic beverages are served to or consumed by underage persons is necessary when such activity is determined to be a threat to the peace, health, safety or general welfare of the public;
G. 
Persons responsible for abetting or tolerating loud or unruly gatherings will be more likely to properly supervise or stop such conduct at gatherings held on property under their possession or control;
H. 
In the past and present, law enforcement, fire and other emergency response services personnel have and are required to respond, sometimes on multiple occasions, to loud or unruly gatherings on private property at which alcoholic beverages are served to or consumed by underage persons, and responses to such gatherings result in a disproportionate expenditure of public safety resources by the Town of Amherst and delays police responses to regular and emergency calls to the rest of the Town;
I. 
The intent of this Chapter is to protect the public health, safety, quiet enjoyment of residential property, and general welfare, rather than to punish. An ordinance that imposes strict liability on property owners and other responsible persons for the nuisances created by loud and unruly gatherings is necessary to deter and prevent such gatherings. Persons who actively and passively aid, allow or tolerate loud or unruly gatherings shall be held strictly liable for the nuisances created by such gatherings and the costs associated with responding to such gatherings.
The purposes of this Chapter are:
A. 
To protect public health, safety and general welfare;
B. 
To enforce laws prohibiting the service to and consumption of alcoholic beverages by underage persons; and
C. 
To reduce the costs of providing police, fire and other emergency response services to loud or unruly gatherings, by imposing a civil fee against social hosts and landowners (including landlords) for the recovery of costs associated with providing law enforcement, fire and other emergency response services to loud or unruly gatherings, including those where alcoholic beverages are served to or consumed by underage persons.
For the purposes of this Chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
ALCOHOL
Ethyl alcohol, hydrated oxide of ethyl or spirits of wine from whatever source or by whatever process produced.
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE
Includes alcohol, spirits, liquor, wine, beer, and every liquid or solid containing alcohol, spirits, wine or beer and which contains 1/2 of 1% or more of alcohol by volume and which is fit for beverage purposes either alone or when diluted, mixed or combined with other substances.
JUVENILE
Any person under sixteen (16) years of age.
A. 
A party or gathering of two (2) or more persons at or on a residence or other private property upon which loud or unruly conduct occurs. Such loud or unruly conduct includes but is not limited to:
(1) 
Excessive noise;
(2) 
Excessive traffic;
(3) 
Obstruction of public streets or crowds that have spilled into public streets;
(4) 
Public drunkenness or unlawful public consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages;
(5) 
Service to or consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages by any underage person, except as permitted by state law;
(6) 
Harassments, assaults, fights, domestic violence or other disturbances of the peace;
(7) 
Vandalism;
(8) 
Litter; and
(9) 
Any other conduct which constitutes a threat to public health, safety, quiet enjoyment, of residential property or general welfare.
B. 
A loud or unruly gathering shall constitute a public nuisance.
RESIDENCE OR OTHER PRIVATE PROPERTY
A home, yard, apartment, condominium, hotel or motel room, or other dwelling unit, or a hall or meeting room, whether occupied on a temporary or permanent basis, whether occupied as a dwelling, party or other social function, and whether owned, leased, rented or used with or without compensation.
RESPONSE COSTS
The cost associated with responses by law enforcement, fire and other emergency response providers to loud or unruly gatherings, including but not limited to:
A. 
Salaries and benefits of law enforcement, fire or other emergency response personnel for the amount of time spent responding to, remaining at, or otherwise dealing with loud or unruly gatherings, and the administrative costs attributable to such response(s);
B. 
The cost of any medical treatment to or for any law enforcement, fire or other emergency response personnel injured responding to, remaining at or leaving the scene of a loud or unruly gathering;
C. 
The cost of repairing any Town equipment or property damage, and the cost of the use of any such equipment, in responding to, remaining at or leaving the scene of a loud or unruly gathering;
RESPONSIBLE PARTY
Any person, agent, operator, firm, association, organization, partnership, company, corporation, beneficiary, trust, trustee, and all other persons having a legal or equitable interest in the residence or other private property or recorded in the official records of the state, county or municipality as holding title to the property or otherwise having control of the property, including the guardian of the estate of any such person and the executor or administrator of the estate of such person if ordered to take possession of real property by a court, on which a loud or unruly gathering is conducted.
A. 
A person or persons with a right of possession in the residence or other private property on which loud or unruly gathering is conducted, including, but not limited to:
(1) 
An owner of the residence or other private property;
(2) 
A tenant or lessee of the residence or other private property;
(3) 
The landlord of another person responsible for the gathering; and
(4) 
The person(s) who organizes, supervises, officiates, conducts or controls the gathering or any other person(s) accepting responsibility for such a gathering.
B. 
If a responsible person for the gathering is a juvenile, then the parents or guardians of that juvenile and the juvenile will be jointly and severally liable for the response costs incurred pursuant to this chapter. To incur liability for response costs imposed by this Chapter, the responsible person for the loud or unruly gathering need not be present at such gathering resulting in the response giving rise to the imposition of response costs. This chapter therefore imposes vicarious as well as direct liability upon a responsible person.
UNDERAGE PERSON
Any person under twenty-one (21) years of age.
A. 
It shall be a violation for any responsible person or party to conduct, aid, allow, permit or condone a loud or unruly gathering at a residence or other private property.
B. 
Fines.
(1) 
A first violation of this Chapter shall be punishable by a Two Hundred-Fifty Dollar ($250) fine and shall be required to complete a substance abuse education program provided by a certified prevention agency within ninety (90) days of the offense.
(2) 
A second violation of this Chapter, at the same residence or other private property or by the same responsible person or party, within a twelve-month period shall be punishable by a fine of Five Hundred Dollar ($500).
(3) 
A third or subsequent violation of this chapter, at the same residence or other private property or by the same responsible person or party, within a twelve-month period shall be punishable by a fine of One Thousand Dollar ($1,000).
C. 
The fines prescribed at Subsection B above are in addition to any response costs that may be assessed pursuant to this Chapter.
D. 
The fine schedule prescribed at Subsection B above is a "rolling schedule" meaning that in calculating the fine payable, the Town Attorney shall count backward starting from the date of the most recent loud or unruly gathering to determine how many prior loud or unruly gatherings have taken place at the residence or other private property in question during the statutory twelve (12) month period.
E. 
In addition to the fine schedule prescribed in Subsection B above, a violation of this Chapter subjects the responsible person or party to the fines and penalties of Chapter 138 (Noise) of the Code of the Town of Amherst.
F. 
A responsible person or party charged with a violation of this Chapter is entitled to a summary hearing in Amherst Town Court without a jury and the Court must receive any relevant evidence not legally privileged. Hearsay is admissible. The responsible person or party may cross-examine witnesses and may present evidence on his/her/their behalf. A finding that the responsible person or party has violated any provision of this Chapter must be based upon a preponderance of the evidence.
A. 
When a law enforcement, fire or other emergency response provider responds to a loud or unruly gathering at a residence or other private property within the Town of Amherst within a twelve (12) month period of a warning given to a responsible person or party for a loud or unruly gathering, all responsible persons or parties shall be jointly and severally liable for the Town's costs of providing response costs for that response and all subsequent responses during the warning period.
B. 
When a law enforcement, fire or other emergency response provider official makes an initial response to a loud or unruly gathering at a residence or other private property within the Town of Amherst, the official shall inform any responsible person or party for the gathering at the scene that:
(1) 
The official has determined that a loud or unruly gathering exists; and
(2) 
The responsible person or party will be charged for any response costs required for subsequent responses to the scene for a loud or unruly gathering within a twelve (12) month period.
C. 
Only one warning will be given to a responsible person or party pursuant to this section before the Town assesses response service costs pursuant to this Chapter. If a responsible person or party cannot be identified at the scene, the official may issue a warning to one or more persons identified in this Chapter or subsequently return to the residence or other private property and issue the warning to a then-present responsible person or party. Warnings given to responsible persons or parties who do not reside at the residence or other private property in question shall be delivered by certified mail, return receipt requested.
D. 
With the acceptance of this ordinance, recovered funds are to be made available to cover the cost of this ordinance as calculated at the end of each year based on costs expended by the Town of Amherst Police Department. The recovered funds are to be earmarked to the trust in agency account for safety education programs.
A. 
The amount of response costs shall be deemed a debt owed to the Town of Amherst by the responsible person or party held liable in this Chapter for the loud or unruly gathering and, if a juvenile, by the juvenile's parents or guardians. The amount of response costs, including reasonable attorney's fees, shall also be a lien against the property concerned and shall be assessed, levied, and collected like other taxes and assessments; provided, however, that the responsible person or party, including the owner and all other persons having an interest in the property, are provided with notice by way of certified mail, return receipt requested, and mailed within fourteen (14) days of the response giving rise to such costs. The notice shall contain the following information:
(1) 
The name of the person or party being held liable for the payment of such costs;
(2) 
The address of the residence or other private property where the loud or unruly gathering occurred;
(3) 
The date and time of the response;
(4) 
The law enforcement, fire or emergency service provider who responded;
(5) 
The date and time of any previous warning given pursuant to this Chapter and/or previous responses to loud or unruly gatherings at the residence or other private property in question within the previous twelve (12) months; and
(6) 
An itemized list of the response costs for which the person or party is being liable.
B. 
The responsible person or party must remit payment of the noticed response costs to the Town of Amherst Comptroller's Office within thirty (30) days of the date of the notice. If no payment is made within thirty (30) days, the response costs, including reasonable attorney's fees, shall be a lien against the property concerned and shall be assessed, levied, and collected like other taxes and assessments; provided, however, that the responsible person or party and all other persons having an interest in the property are provided with notice and an opportunity to be heard before the assessment of any lien against the land.
The Town of Amherst is authorized, after due demand having been made and proper notice having been given, to commence an action at law in any court of competent jurisdiction to collect response costs from the responsible person or party, including the owner and any other person having an interest in the property concerned.
A. 
If a provision of this chapter is found to be inconsistent with any provision of other Chapters of the Town Code, the provision or requirement which is the more restrictive or which establishes the higher standard shall prevail. A greater penalty shall not be considered as more restrictive or a higher standard.
B. 
If any part, provision, section, subdivision, paragraph or term of this chapter shall be held unconstitutional, invalid or ineffective, in whole or in part, such determination shall not be deemed to invalidate the remaining ordinance, parts, provisions, sections, subdivisions, paragraphs or terms.
This Chapter shall take effect immediately.