A new ordinance approved Tuesday by Fort Wayne City Council would force landlords who own commercial property to evict small stores dealing under the table in synthetic drugs.
Council unanimously passed the measure sponsored by Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th, adding small convenience stores and other small businesses to the city's drug house ordinance, which requires landlords to evict tenants caught selling drugs.
“I am real pleased, Councilman Paddock, that you took the lead on this,” said Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd. “I think this is a fantastic ordinance…and it's going to help get some drugs off the street.”
Fort Wayne and Allen County both have had bans on synthetic drugs since 2010. Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a state law this year banning “spice,” “K2” and other forms of synthetic marijuana, along with stimulants sold as “bath salts.”
At any given time, more than 20 convenience stores in Fort Wayne could be selling synthetic drugs, city drug house coordinator Ken Scheibenberger told council last month. He said the imitation drugs often are kept under counters or sold behind stores.
Under the ordinance, landlords who refuse to evict offending stores could face civil fines up to $500 a day, Scheibenberger said.
Some businesses had initial concerns that they would be penalized if people were caught dealing drugs on their properties after hours without consent, but an amended version relieved those worries, Paddock said.
The ordinance would need Mayor Tom Henry's signature before taking effect.