[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Cortlandt 3-18-1997 by L.L. No. 3-1997. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Board of the Town of Cortlandt finds that rising levels of graffiti poses a serious problem for our residents and merchants. The use of pens, writing and artistic devices and spray can and marking devices used in connection with the writing of graffiti on walls and other places of buildings and property has reached the level that local attention should be given to this matter by the Town. The defacing of such property and the use of foul language in many of the writings, as well as symbols or words indicating bias against any segment of the community or individuals, is harmful to the general public and violative of the good and welfare of the citizens, residents and people of the Town of Cortlandt. The unabated proliferation of graffiti is a physical blight upon the landscapes of our town and costs taxpayers, merchants and homeowners substantial moneys to remove and repair.
The Town Board also finds that, when unchecked, graffiti presents an image of a deteriorating community, a community that no longer cares about itself. Not only is graffiti an assault upon individual sensibilities, it is another reason for people to leave the community.
Studies have found increasing evidence that unchecked acts of graffiti vandalism can be a precursor to more serious acts of crime and vandalism.
It is the intent of this legislation that any person found guilty of writing graffiti on buildings and property shall be held accountable for those actions in an appropriate manner.
As used in this chapter, the following term shall have the meanings indicated:
- BROAD-TIPPED INDELIBLE MARKER
- Any felt-tip marker or similar implement containing a fluid that is not water soluble and which has a flat or angled writing surface 1/2 inch or greater.
No person shall write, paint or draw any inscription figure or mark of any type on any building, public or private, or any other property, real or personal, owned, operated or maintained by any public benefit corporation, the Town of Cortlandt or by any person, firm or corporation or any agency or instrumentality thereof without the express written permission of the owner of the property or his agent.
A person is guilty of possession of a graffiti instrument when he possesses any aerosol spray paint can or broad-tipped indelible marker or tool, instrument, article, substance, solution or other compound designed or commonly used to etch, paint, cover, draw upon or otherwise place a mark upon a piece of property which that person has no permission or authority to etch, paint, cover, draw upon or otherwise place a mark upon, unless the express prior written permission of the owner or operator of the property has been obtained.
Possession of any aerosol spray paint can or broad-tipped indelible marker or any tool, instrument, article, substance, solution or other compound designed or commonly used to etch, paint, cover, draw upon or otherwise place a mark upon any public or private property by any person in the proximity of any defacement, without the prior express written consent of the owner or operator of the property having been obtained, shall create a rebuttable presumption that such person did deface public or private property in violation of this chapter.
Any person who has been found guilty of any violation of § 187-3 of this chapter shall be punished by a mandatory minimum fine of $250 for each violation thereof and/or shall be imprisoned up to 15 days in jail, or both. In addition, that person, in the court's discretion, shall be liable for the cost of removing said graffiti from the property so defaced as part of his or her punishment for the violation of this chapter or to perform suitable alternate community services pursuant to the court's discretion.
It is the responsibility of the owner or his agent of the building or structure which had been defaced without the owner's, or his agent's prior written permission by a writing, painting or drawing of any inscription, figure or mark to completely remove said graffiti from the building or structure within a time frame of not less than 15 nor more than 45 days of receipt of written notice of the defacement by any police official or Code enforcement official of the Town of Cortlandt, said notice having been served personally or as otherwise permitted by law, which may be extended further due to circumstances beyond the property owner's control.
Failure of the owner of the building or structure to remove the graffiti within the time allowed after written notice may subject the owner to a fine of not more than $100 for the first offense. Each fifteen-day period thereafter shall be deemed a separate offense and shall subject the owner to additional fines not to exceed $100 for each offense.
The provisions of this chapter shall not, in any way, preclude prosecution and punishment of the prohibited conduct under the applicable provisions of the New York State Penal Law, specifically, Penal Law §§ 60.28, 145.60 and 240.00, or any other applicable Penal Law sections. Further, nothing herein shall preclude a court, in its discretion, from requiring a defendant's successful participation in a graffiti removal program pursuant to Subdivision 2(h) of § 65.10 of the Penal Law.