A recent article from Newsday discusses a recent change in Oyster Bay, NY

Oyster Bay expands nuisance law on boarding up homes

The Town of Oyster Bay has expanded its powers to board up houses under an amended public nuisance law.

The town’s old law required that a property be the site of at least two arrests or violations of certain laws in a 12-month period in order for the town to declare it a nuisance. The amended law adopted last month sets that standard at two “incidents.”

“We don’t always have arrests with this type of behavior,” Charles McQuair, a part-time town attorney, said during an Oct. 6 hearing on the law that was adopted on Oct. 20. “So what we did was we added the word ‘incident’ as part of the predicate offense section, which will allow the town, after two incidents, to be able to enforce the public nuisance statute.”

McQuair said the town had been “powerless” to take actions under the old law in recent incidents, including properties rented out through Airbnb and used for parties, residential shootings and squatters living in “zombie houses” — properties whose owners have abandoned the properties and failed to maintain them.

The public nuisance law addresses “acts or continuing acts that endanger, threaten public safety, [or] create quality of life issues for communities and neighbors,” McQuair said at the hearing.

Town officials did not respond to requests to define the meaning of the word “incident” in the context of the amended law. Some of the actions that could lead to a property being declared a public nuisance include illegal drug offenses, the unlawful sale or consumption of alcohol, and having a search warrant executed on the property.

Councilman Louis Imbroto said during the hearing that the amendments would allow the town to shut down drug dealing and prostitution at properties based on “incidents rather than convictions, so that we don’t need a formal criminal conviction in order to enforce our ordinance against public nuisance.”

To view the online article, please click here.