Martinsburg Landlords Step Up to Help Solve Drug House Problems

  • Martinsburg Landlords Step Up to Help Solve Drug House Problems

    Martinsburg Landlords Step Up to Help Solve Drug House Problems

    The Martinsburg Police Department announced today the successful resolution of three more drug house cases with the full cooperation of the property owners.

    In June, police conducted search warrants and made four drug-related arrests at three rental properties located at 207 S. Kentucky Avenue, 209 S. Kentucky Avenue, and 417 W. John Street.  The drug enforcement activity triggered Martinsburg’s Drug House Ordinance.  Police Chief Maury Richards appeared before the Municipal Magistrate to obtain Orders of Abatement and hearing dates were set in Municipal Court to resolve the problems.  The landlords, Ms. Dorothy Coyle, who owns 207 and 209 S. Kentucky Avenue and Ms. Janet Hiett, the owner of 417 W. John Street, were notified of the police action and court dates.

    Chief Richards stated that once notified, the property owners contacted him immediately and cooperated fully with the police to evict problem tenants and take other measures to prevent future illegal drug activity on their property.  Richards reported that both owners have brought their properties into compliance long before the scheduled hearing dates and that Martinsburg City Attorney Floyd “Kin” Sayre will appear this week before Municipal Judge Dale Buck to request dismissal of the cases.  “Having responsible property owners who step up and cooperate with us to solve these problems is very, very important,” explained Richards.  “Dorothy Coyle and Janet Hiett worked hand-in-hand with us every step of the way.  I can’t say enough good things about them.  We’re going to keep working together,” the MPD Chief added.

    MPD confirms that both officers and community residents have seen immediate positive changes on both blocks now that the sources of drug-dealing and other criminal activity have been removed.  There have been no drug-related complaints at either location since the police utilized the Drug House Ordinance to solve the problems.

    Deputy Chief George Swartwood also expressed appreciation for the cooperation demonstrated by Coyle and Hiett.  “We’re working together to clean up these neighborhoods,” said Swartwood.  “Dorothy and Janet are the kind of responsible property owners we need.  They care about our town,” he added.

    MPD has now successfully shut down 12 drug houses with Martinsburg’s innovative ordinance. 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.  Orders of Abatement contain 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.