'Public Nuisance' ordinance passes in Buckhannon

BUCKHANNON, W. Va. (WDTV) - Ordinance 428 is creating a buzz around Buckhannon. What was once refereed as the "Drug house' ordinance is now called the "Public nuisance" ordinance.

"The ordinance is actually applicable to everyone except hospitals and drug rehabilitation centers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a rental unit," said Mayor David McCauley.

City council members passed the final reading of this ordinance on Thursday after months of drafting and holding meetings with landlords and community members.

"The drug epidemic is such an issue. It’s such a complex, multi-faceted issue. There's not one single thing that communities can do to improve the situation," he said.

This approach stems from several incidents that risked the life of first responders.

"He had to be resuscitated with NARCAN as a result of drug overdose, exact same property, and as he was coming to, he assaulted one of our police officers," he said.

Several landlords say they'd love to see drugs gone but they feel this ordinance is targeting them, not the problem.

"Our concern is with the effectiveness of this ordinance. Will it really change anything?" said Jody Light, treasurer for the Upshur County Landlords' Association.

The owner of the Baxa Hotel and Motel told 5 News by phone, that this will be difficult for her. She says she can't do a background check on clients in minutes or hours notice and is afraid of losing her business if one person does something in the premises.

"Hotel-motels... I can image the precarious situation that puts them in on folks coming in on a very transient basis. They can't do background checks to someone who checking in at a hotel," said Light.

According to the mayor, all they city is trying to do is help.

"We're not going after the good landlords. We’re not citing any particular hotel-motel," he said.

But landlords say this goes against state law.

"We want to make sure as landlords we're doing the right thing, whether is city or ordinance or state law, which I'm sure it will prevail," said Light.

The ordinance will come into effect on January 1st.