Township of Lumberton, NJ
Burlington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Lumberton 12-17-1973 by Ord. No. 1973-19 as part of Ch. XII of the 1973 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 121.
Garbage, rubbish and refuse — See Ch. 162.

§ 109-1 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BUILDING
Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
[Added 6-16-1997 by Ord. No. 1997-12[1]]
OWNER
The holder of the title in fee simple.
PARTIES-IN-INTEREST
All persons who have interests of record in a dwelling and any who are in possession thereof.
PUBLIC AUTHORITY
Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the township, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning dwellings in the municipality.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed the former definition of "dwelling."

§ 109-2 Enforcing officer.

[Amended 8-21-1989 by Ord. No. 1989-11]
The Burlington County Health Department is designated and appointed to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter and is hereinafter referred to as the "public officer."

§ 109-3 Declaration of unfitness.

[Amended 6-16-1997 by Ord. No. 1997-12]
Any building in the township is hereby declared to be unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if conditions exist which render such building or buildings or part thereof unsafe or unsanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the occupants of the building, occupants of neighboring buildings and/or other residents of the township, including without limitation the generability of the foregoing, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, dilapidation, disrepair or structural defects or other conditions rendering such building or buildings or part thereof unsafe or unsanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the township.

§ 109-4 Petition; complaint; notice.

[Amended 8-3-1992 by Ord. No. 1992-6; 6-16-1997 by Ord. No. 1997-12]
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by not less than five residents of the township charging that any building within the township is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public officer shall make a preliminary investigation of the charges. If the preliminary investigation of the charges discloses a basis therefor or if any investigation of his own furnishes such a basis, he shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after serving of the complaint.

§ 109-5 Right to answer and appear.

The owner and parties-in-interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or by attorney and give testimony at the place and time fixed for a hearing in the notice.

§ 109-6 Hearing.

A. 
At the time and place stated in the notice or at such time and place to which the hearing may be adjourned from time to time, the public officer shall hold a hearing at which complainants, if any, the owner and parties-in-interest and witnesses shall be heard and at which the public officer shall publicly state the results of his investigation.
B. 
The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.

§ 109-7 Order to abate.

[Amended 6-16-1997 by Ord. No. 1997-12]
If after such notice and hearing the public officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, he shall state, in writing, his determination and his findings of fact in support thereof and shall issue an order to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in the building. The order shall require that:
A. 
If the repair, alteration or improvement of the building can be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the building (the Township Committee may, by ordinance, affix a certain percentage of such cost as being reasonable to such purpose), the owner, to the extent and within the terms specified in the order, shall repair, alter or improve the building to render it fit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
B. 
If the repair, alteration or improvement of the building cannot be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the building (the Township Committee may, by ordinance, affix a certain percentage of such cost as being reasonable for such purpose), the owner, within the time specified in the order, shall remove or demolish the building.

§ 109-8 Failure to comply.

[Amended 6-16-1997 by Ord. No. 1997-12]
A. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order issued by the public officer under § 109-7A, the public officer may close the building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed. The public officer may also cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building used for human habitation so closed a packet with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation; the use or occupation of this building for human habitation is prohibited and unlawful."
B. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the officer may cause the building to be removed or demolished.

§ 109-9 Cost established as lien.

A. 
The following costs shall be a municipal lien against the real property for which such cost was incurred:
[Amended 2-2-1998 by Ord. No. 1998-6]
(1) 
The cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges, incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter of the Code of the Township of Lumberton determined in favor of the township.
(2) 
Such costs of repairs, alterations or improvements, vacating and closing or removal or demolition.
B. 
If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of the building and shall credit the proceeds of any such sale against the cost of removal or demolition. Any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Chancery Division of the Superior Court by the public officer, secured in such manner as may be directed by the Court and disbursed by the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or decree of the Court.
[Amended 6-16-1997 by Ord. No. 1997-12]

§ 109-10 Additional powers of public officer.

In addition to the powers in this chapter granted to the public officer, he shall have the power to:
A. 
Investigate the building conditions in the township in order to determine which buildings are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
[Amended 6-16-1997 by Ord. No. 1997-12]
B. 
Administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
C. 
Enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
D. 
Appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

§ 109-11 Noncompliance to constitute violation.

The failure, neglect or refusal of any person to comply with any order made by the public officer pursuant to the provisions of this chapter or the hindrance by any person of the public officer in making any investigation under this chapter shall constitute a violation of this chapter.

§ 109-12 Construal.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise.

§ 109-13 Violations and penalties.

[Added 8-3-1992 by Ord. No. 1992-6]
A. 
Maximum penalty. For violation of any provisions of this chapter, the maximum penalty, upon conviction, shall be a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 90 days or a period of community service not exceeding 90 days, or such combination of punishments as the Municipal Judge may, in his or her discretion, deem appropriate and just.
B. 
Separate violations. Each and every day in which a violation of any provision of this chapter exists shall constitute a separate violation.
C. 
Application. The maximum penalty stated in this section is not intended to state an appropriate penalty for each and every violation. Any lesser penalty, including a nominal penalty or no penalty at all, may be appropriate for a particular case or violation, except in those instances where state law mandates a minimum penalty to be imposed.
D. 
Minimum penalty. There shall be a minimum penalty of a fine fixed at an amount not exceeding $100.

§ 109-14 Injunctive relief.

[Added 8-3-1992 by Ord. No. 1992-6]
In addition to the penalties imposed by § 109-13, the township may institute and maintain a civil action for injunctive relief.