Public Nuisance Information

Disclaimer

This guide is meant to serve as a tool as it relates to the Nuisance and Abatement process governed by (FSS and St. Johns County Ordinance) within the West Augustine area governed by the CRA. This guide only highlights the key points of the Nuisance and Abatement Ordinance and to ensure a full understanding when enforcing this Ordinance, ensure you familiarize yourselves completely with FSS. 893.138/ St. Johns County Ordinance 2014-29.

What is Nuisance and Abatement as described by FSS 893.138/ St. Johns County Ordinance 2014-29?

A place or person may be declared to be a “Public Nuisance” and such nuisance may be abated pursuant to section 893.138, Florida Statutes (as may be amended from time to time), and the procedures provided within this Ordinance. For the purpose of this Ordinance, “Public Nuisance” shall mean any place or premises that have been used for criminal violations which result in arrest. For the purpose of this Ordinance “Abate” shall mean lessen, reduce, or remove (especially a nuisance).

It is the intent of this section to promote, protect, and improve the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the counties and municipalities of this state by authorizing the creation of administrative boards with authority to impose administrative fines and other noncriminal penalties in order to provide an equitable, expeditious, effective, and inexpensive method of enforcing ordinances in counties and municipalities under circumstances when a pending or repeated violation continues to exist.

 

What criminal violations resulting in arrest shall be applicable as it relates to St. Johns County Ordinance in conjunction with state statute?

 Any place or premises that has been used:

(a) On more than two occasions within a 6-month period, as the site of a violation of s. 796.07; Prostitution
(b) On more than two occasions within a 6-month period, as the site of the unlawful sale, delivery, manufacture, or cultivation of any controlled substance;
(c) On one occasion as the site of the unlawful possession of a controlled substance, where such possession constitutes a felony and that has been previously used on more than one occasion as the site of the unlawful sale, delivery, manufacture, or cultivation of any controlled substance;
(d) By a criminal gang for the purpose of conducting criminal gang activity as defined by s. 874.03;
(e) On more than two occasions within a 6-month period, as the site of a violation of s. 812.019 relating to dealing in stolen property; or
(f) On two or more occasions within a 6-month period, as the site of a violation of chapter 499,

Each of these categories may be declared to be a public nuisance, and such nuisance may be abated pursuant to the procedures provided in this section.

Any pain-management clinic, as described in s. 458.3265 or s. 459.0137:

(a) which has been used on more than two occasions within a 6-month period as the site of a violation of: Section 784.011, s. 784.021, s. 784.03, or s. 784.045, relating to assault and battery;
(b) Section 810.02, relating to burglary;
(c) Section 812.014, relating to theft;
(d) Section 812.131, relating to robbery by sudden snatching; or
(e) Section 893.13, relating to the unlawful distribution of controlled substances,

Each of these categories may be declared to be a public nuisance, and such nuisance may be abated pursuant to the procedures provided in this section.

 

Once a complaint is levied, who will be the presiding and governing body?

Pursuant to Section 893.138, Florida Statutes, the Board of County Commissioners of St. Johns County authorizes the West Augustine CRA Nuisance and Abatement Board (Administration Board), to hear complaints regarding the Public Nuisances described in this Ordinance. The Administrative Board will consist of (5) members and (2) alternates, who shall be appointed by the County Commission with a recommendation from the West Augustine Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Steering Committee. (3) members shall constitute a quorum.

 

How are complaints handled?

Any County employee, law enforcement officer, business owner or resident of St. Johns County may make a complaint alleging that a property within the CRA is being used for illegal activity and thereby creating a Public Nuisance. Complaints shall be made to and investigated by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office will review and investigate the complaint and any other relevant information, including but not limited to arrest records. The Sheriff’s Office will have (30) days after receiving such a complaint to determine whether a public nuisance exists under this Ordinance.

If the Sheriff’s Office determines a Public Nuisance exists and the property is negatively impacting the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens, businesses, and property owners within the CRA, then after (3) days written notice of such complaint to the owner of the place or premises at the owner’s last known address, to the Sheriff’s Office shall promptly request a hearing before the Administrative Board. 

 

Administrative Fines and Penalties; Liens; and Costs

The Administrative Board upon finding non-compliance within its order by the set time, or upon finding that a recurring Public Nuisance has been committed, may order the owner to pay a fine in an amount specified for each day the Public Nuisance continues past the date set by the Administrative Board for compliance, or, in the case of a recurring Public Nuisance, for each day the recurring Public Nuisance continues from the date the recurring Public Nuisance is found to have occurred.

A fine imposed pursuant to these violations shall not exceed ($250.00) per day for a first occurrence of a Public Nuisance and shall not exceed ($500.00) per day for a recurring Public Nuisance. However, the total fines imposed pursuant to these violations shall not exceed a total of ($15,000.00).

In determining the amount of the fine, if any, the Administrative Board shall consider the following factors:

  • The gravity of the Public Nuisance;
  • Any actions taken by the owner to correct the Public Nuisance; and
  • Any previous Public Nuisances created by the owner.