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Landlords targeted in proposed Waynesboro ordinance

April 21, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - When Waynesboro Borough Council member Jahnathan Cain was growing up in Los Angeles, he saw the problems his neighborhood had with drug dealers and other criminal activities.

"I don't want this to happen in Waynesboro," said Cain, who was sworn in to his first four-year term in January. He represents the borough's second ward.

"That's the reason I ran for office. This is a hot-button issue with me," he said. He said he brought up the proposal to the council as a private citizen before he decided to run for office.

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Cain lives on North Potomac Street with his wife and four children. He said he's seen criminal activity in his neighborhood.

"Last summer a bunch of thugs showed up and there was a brawl on the street," he said. There also was evidence that drug dealing was going on. "I don't want it to go any further," he said.

At tonight's Borough Council meeting, Cain will propose an ordinance aimed at the owners of apartment buildings - absentee and those who don't care what goes on in their apartments.

Cain's proposal would force landlords to evict within 15 days any tenant who has been convicted of drug crimes or other criminal activity.

When drug dealers get out of jail they often return to their old apartments, he said.

Cain said there are state laws that allow landlords to evict tenants, but the process is long and unwieldy. A borough ordinance would allow the municipality to act on its own, he said.

Such a law also would help to build a case against a landlord who allows illegal activity to go on in his or her building, Cain said.

He said he fashioned his proposed law after similar legislation in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The item is listed on tonight's meeting agenda as "proposed property nuisance abatement ordinance."

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