- Aug 31
First City Drug House Abatement Hearings a Success
The Martinsburg Police Department announced today the first hearings for Orders of Abatement initiated under the City’s Drug House Ordinance. They are delighted with the results. This morning, Martinsburg City Attorney Floyd “Kin” Sayre and Police Chief Maury Richards presented three cases before Municipal Court Judge Dale Buck. All cases are being positively resolved.
The hearings involved the following property owners and locations: Mr. Vantap Teng, owner of 235 Porter Avenue; Mr. Richard Beavers, owner and resident of 616 N. Second Street; and Mr. Carlos Niederhouser, owner of 301 E. Burke Street. The provisions of the Drug House Ordinance were triggered after the Martinsburg Police Department had previously established that illegal drug activity had occurred within each property.
Chief Richards reported that all owners were very cooperative and now either completely or well on the way to full compliance with the ordinance. The City requested that the case against Mr. Teng be dismissed after verifying that the problem tenant had vacated the property and the owner agreed that the future renters will be screened to insure that they are free of criminal convictions for drug-related and other specified criminal violations. Mr. Beavers documented his taking several abatement measures on his owner/occupied property that included posting “No Trespassing” signs, improved lighting, cleaning up of brush and debris, and positive intervention steps with a family member. MPD will continue to monitor the property for the next 90 days. If it remains free of drug-related activity, Mr. Beavers will be considered to be in compliance and the case will be dismissed. Mr. Niederhauser is in the process of completing a property transfer and if completed within the next 90 days, he will have achieved compliance with the ordinance.
“This is the way our Drug House Ordinance was designed to work. We have had no complaints of illegal drug activity at any of these three properties since the Abatement Orders and steps have been taken to keep it that way, stated Chief Richards. “We recognize and appreciate the full cooperation from Mr. Teng, Mr. Beavers, and Mr. Niederhauser in making these three properties drug-free and look forward to working with them in the future.”
Deputy Chief George Swartwood also recognized the prompt and effective response of the three property owners at today’s hearing. “It’s all about making our communities better and safer. We are working with all property owners who step up in the spirit of responsibility and teamwork,” Swartwood stated.
Richards and Swartwood stressed that MPD is fighting the war on drugs on many fronts and recognizes that stopping illegal drug sales from inside residences is crucial to cleaning up the drug problem in Martinsburg. The City’s innovative Drug House Ordinance is an effective tool to cleaning up neighborhoods negatively impacted by drug selling.
Under the provisions of the Drug House Ordinance, property owners are subject to fines if they fail to take appropriate action to abate the problem after 30 days of notification. The Orders of Abatement ruled on today contained compliance stipulations including: evicting problem tenants, other actions to prevent the recurrence of illegal drug activity, and mandating criminal background checks on future tenants to insure they are “free from convictions for prostitution; illegal gambling; illegal possession, storage, or delivery of or trafficking in controlled substances, or other illegal drug activity.” The Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance applies to owners of both rental and owner-occupied property.