City Board Has Authority To Close Down Houses, Businesses
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ City officials appointed a citizens board with the authority to close buildings or businesses where drug activity has become entrenched.
City General Counsel James L. Harrison described the power of the Drug Nuisance Board as ″pretty drastic,″ but also called it ″one of the most significant″ steps taken by the city to fight drug dealing.
The five-member board can order landowners to make changes in their buildings, or the activities that go on there, to prevent drugs from being sold.
It also has the power to close businesses entirely in cases where members think the owners are unable or unwilling to do anything to stop drug dealing.
The board, which met for the first time Tuesday, will hear evidence presented by the General Counsel’s Office about buildings where drug deals are known to have taken place at least three times.
The City Council authorized the board last July, but it was not formed until recently because of questions of its constitutionality.
Steve Rohan, an attorney with the General Counsel’s Office, said police and private citizens can recommend that buildings be targeted for the board’s review.
Sheriff’s Lt. David Sembach said police have been mailing notices to property owners for several weeks advising them drug deals are taking place on their land.