[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Highlands 9-12-1997 by L.L. No. 1-1997; amended in its entirety 10-27-2014 by L.L. No. 3-2014. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Weeds and Other Growths
Article II Property Standards
No person shall permit rubbish, noxious weeds, long grass or other rank growths or growths which are harmful, poisonous or detrimental to health on real property owned by him or sidewalks adjacent thereto. Upon due notice by the Town given to such owner to cut, trim or remove such rubbish, noxious weeds, long grass or rank growths, and upon default thereafter being made by such owner, the Town Board may cause said rubbish, noxious weeds, long grass or rank growth to be cut, trimmed and removed or otherwise eliminated and assess the expense upon the property whereon the same is found. Such charge, if unpaid, shall become a lien upon the property, subject to collection as a tax thereon, after due notice to the owner and a hearing as to the justness of the costs.
A person upon whom notice has been served to cut, trim or remove rubbish, noxious weeds, long grass and other rank growths and who for five days after service shall neglect or fail to comply with the provisions of any such notice shall be deemed to have violated this article. If the owner of such property affected by this article is a nonresident, the notice to cut, trim or remove may be mailed to such owner, addressed to his last known address, which shall be deemed sufficient service of said notice.
In order to prevent blight and the spread thereof, it is hereby declared that all structures, including but not limited to one- and two-family and multiple-family dwellings, whether or not used for residential purposes, garden apartments, all other apartment complexes, all shopping centers, supermarkets, retail stores, discount houses, warehouses, manufacturing or fabrication plants, factories, gasoline service stations, public garages, motor vehicle repair shops or other business uses, and accessory structures to all of the foregoing, whether occupied or vacant, shall be maintained in conformity with the standards set out in this article so as to assure that none of these structures or properties will adversely affect their neighborhood or the larger community. It is found and declared that, by reason of lack of maintenance and progressive deterioration, certain structures and properties have the further effect of creating blighting conditions and initiating slums and that if the same are not curtailed and removed, the aforesaid conditions will grow and spread and will necessitate in time the expenditure of large amounts of public funds to correct and eliminate the same. By reason of timely regulations and restrictions, as herein contained, the growth of slums and blight may be prevented and the neighborhood and property values thereby maintained, the desirability and amenities of residential and nonresidential uses and neighborhoods enhanced and the public health, safety and welfare protected and fostered.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED PROPERTY
- A building, structure, dwelling unit or lot that is vacant for a period in excess of 30 consecutive days.
- FORECLOSED PROPERTY
- A building, structure, dwelling unit or lot that is vacant for a period in excess of 30 consecutive days as a result of a foreclosure action.
- Any record owner, mortgagee, vendee in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee, administrator, lessee, agent or other person having control, directly or indirectly, of property or a building, structure or area.
- A natural person, corporation, partnership, limited liability company, unincorporated association, or any other business organization of two or more persons.
- PROPERTY MANAGER
- Any person who is authorized by the owner to repair, maintain, oversee, sell, or lease property or otherwise act on behalf of the owner of property.
- PROPERTY or PREMISES
- Land, buildings and other permanent attachments to the land.
- TENANT or LESSEE
- Any person who uses or occupies property, other than the owner, and who occupies the same pursuant to a written or oral lease agreement or otherwise with the consent and permission of the owner thereof.
- VACANT COMMERCIAL SPACE OR STORE
- The space within a building used by a business or commercial establishment where the business has ceased or suspended operations. Such building or store space shall be deemed vacant even if fixtures, furniture, equipment or other property remains in the space.
- VACANT RESIDENTIAL BUILDING
- A building containing one or more dwelling units in which no occupant(s) has(have) resided for 30 or more consecutive days. Vacancy of some of the dwelling units within a two-family or multiple-dwelling building shall not be considered to be a vacant residential building.
Surface and subsurface water shall be appropriately drained to prevent the development of stagnant ponds.
No shopping baskets, carts or wagons shall be left unattended or standing, and such baskets, carts or wagons shall be collected as often as necessary and removed to the interior of the building or buildings from which they were taken by the person responsible for said building or buildings.
All fences shall be maintained by the person responsible for the property. Such maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, painting, as needed, and the replacement or repair of fences which may become in disrepair.
All landscaping shall be maintained so that lawns, hedges, bushes and trees shall be kept neat and free from becoming overgrown and unsightly where exposed to public view and where the same may constitute a blighting factor having a tendency to depreciate adjoining property. Such maintenance should include, but not be limited to, the replacement of trees and shrubs which may die and/or otherwise be destroyed.
The planting strip fronting the property shall be maintained in a safe condition, neat, mowed, as necessary, and free of litter, poison ivy, ragweed and any other noxious plant.
Steps, walks, driveways, parking spaces and similar paved areas shall be maintained so as to afford safe passage under normal use and weather conditions. Any holes or other hazards that may exist shall be filled and necessary repairs or replacement accomplished. All off-street parking facilities shall be swept as often as necessary in the determination of the enforcing officer.
Yards, courts and vacant lots shall be kept clean and free of physical hazards, rodent harborage and infestation and shall be maintained in a manner that will prevent rubbish from being blown about them.
All signs exposed to public view shall be maintained in good repair. Excessively weathered or faded signs shall be removed or put into good repair. Any nonoperative or broken electrical or other sign shall be repaired or removed.
All unused tires shall be removed from all yards and lots and shall be properly disposed.
Buildings and structures.
All exterior exposed surfaces not inherently resistant to deterioration shall be repaired, coated, treated or sealed to protect them from deterioration.
Floors, walls, ceilings, stairs, furnishings and fixtures of buildings shall be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition. Every floor, exterior wall, roof and porch, or appurtenance thereto, shall be maintained in a manner so as to prevent injury to the occupants of the building or to the public.
The foundation walls of every building shall be maintained in good repair and be structurally sound.
Exterior walls (including doors and windows), roofs and the areas around doors, windows, chimneys and other parts of a building shall be so maintained as to keep water from entering the building and to prevent undue heat loss from occupied areas. Materials which have been damaged or show evidence of dry rot or other deterioration shall be repaired or replaced and refinished in a workmanlike manner. Exterior walls, roofs and other parts of the building shall be free from loose and unsecured objects and material. Such objects or materials shall be removed, repaired or replaced.
Any building or structure, including, but not limited to, residential dwellings, commercial tenant space and stores, that is vacant for more than 30 consecutive days or is deemed by the Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Officer to be dangerous or likely to attract trespassers or squatters shall be boarded up, at least to the second-floor level, and the responsible person for such structure shall conform to this article such structure and all of its adjoining yards, courts or open spaces.
Buildings and structures shall be maintained free of insect, vermin and rodent harborage and infestation.
Vacant commercial space or store.
Whenever a building or store is vacant for a period in excess of 30 days, which period of days need not be successive, the property owner, lessee, occupant and other responsible persons shall place a covering in the storefront to block public view of the interior of the premises. The covering shall be flame retardant or meet with the Building Inspector's/Code Enforcement Officer's approval regarding firesafety. The covering shall not consist of any substance sprayed onto storefront windows but shall consist of plain, earth-tone, venetian or similar blinds, drapes, curtains or shades.
All show windows and glazed doors shall be periodically washed and maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.
All cracked or broken show windows and glazed doors shall be repaired or replaced as necessary.
All debris shall be removed from a vacant building or store. Such premises shall be maintained broom clean at all times.
All storefronts shall be kept in good repair, painted where required, and shall not be permitted to become a safety hazard or nuisance. In the event that repairs to a storefront become necessary, such repairs shall be made so as to repair permanently the damaged area or areas. Any cornice visible above a storefront shall be kept painted and otherwise in good condition and in good repair.
If windows are removed, they shall be replaced with a permanent building material which is in harmony with the rest of the building. Plywood may be used only in an emergency and for a period not to exceed 60 days.
The owner of a vacant building shall take such steps and perform such acts as may be required of him from time to time to ensure that the building and any adjoining yard remain safe and secure and do not present a hazard to the adjoining property or to the public. Owners shall be responsible for maintaining the building and any accessory structures such that they do not become an unoccupied hazard. The building and each floor area shall maintain at least one means of access which complies with the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code.
The interior of a vacant building and each vacant floor area thereof shall be lighted by no less than a twenty-five-watt light fixture.
The Building Inspector shall be authorized to conduct an inspection every six months of any vacant building and vacant store.
The parking of motor vehicles is permitted only on an artificial material surface, such as asphalt, concrete or stone or gravel installed in accordance with municipal specifications or, in the absence of municipal specifications, in accordance with industry standards. No construction or installation of such material is permitted unless:
The material is added only on top of an existing driveway; or
The material is constructed or installed in accordance with a permit issued by the Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Officer; or
The material is constructed or installed in accordance with a site plan approved by the Planning Board.
No vehicular ingress to property or vehicular access to an off-street parking space or parking area is permitted unless:
An existing driveway provides direct access from the street to the parking space or parking area; or
A new accessway is permitted and constructed in accordance with another section of this Code; or
A new accessway is constructed in accordance with a site plan approved by the Planning Board.
Vacant structures and their adjoining yards. Vacant structures and their adjoining yards shall be maintained in compliance with all provisions of this chapter.
The owner of any residential building or commercial space/store that is vacant for more than 30 consecutive days shall notify the Building Department or the Town Clerk of the name, address, phone number and emergency contact phone number of the owner and/or the property manager of the property.
This chapter may be enforced by the Building Inspector, Code Enforcement Officer and/or any police officer of the Town of Highlands.
Notice of violation and order to remedy. Any enforcement official shall have the authority to issue a notice of violation and order to remedy directing an owner or occupant or other person having control, directly or indirectly, of any property to bring such property into compliance with the provisions of this chapter within a period of time deemed adequate by the enforcement official and set forth in the notice of violation and order to remedy. Such notice and order may be served personally or mailed to an owner's last known address as shown on the real property tax records of the Town or other record and posted on the property.
Appearance before the Town Board. The notice of violation and order to remedy may specify a date and time of a hearing to be held before the Town Board. If the hearing date and time is not specified in the notice of violation and order to remedy, then a subsequent notice may specify the date and time of a hearing to be held before the Town Board. Except in the event of an emergency, the date of the hearing before the Town Board specified on the notice of violation and order to remedy shall be at least five days after the date of issuance of the notice of violation and order to remedy.
At the hearing held before the Town Board, the property owner and/or any owner, as defined herein, and/or an attorney or other representative shall have the opportunity to contest the enforcement official's notice of violation and order to remedy. After the hearing is closed, the Town Board shall adopt an order to affirm, modify or rescind the enforcement official's order to remedy.
Appearance ticket. If the violation is not remedied within the time set forth in the notice of violation and order to remedy, the enforcement official may issue an appearance ticket requiring the person, owner, lessee, property manager, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any property to appear in Justice Court for a determination by the Justice Court of claimed violations and to impose penalties as set forth in § 141-8 below.
Compliance with this chapter is required in the interest of the public safety, health and welfare. If the owner(s) served with a notice of violation and order to remedy fails to comply with the order to remedy, as affirmed or modified by the Town Board pursuant to § 141-7D, the Town, through its officers, employees, contractors or agents, may enter upon the property and correct and remedy the violation. All costs incurred by the Town, including the cost of correction and remedy and the cost of the proceeding, including but not limited to reasonable attorneys' fees, plus any surcharge amount as established in § 141-7G, shall be billed to the property owner. The Town shall bill the property owner for said costs by mailing the bill to the owner's last known address as shown on the real property tax records of the Town. If the property owner does not pay said costs within 30 days after the mailing date of the bill, then the amount of said costs, together with interest charged at the rate of 9% per annum, shall be a lien on the property and shall be assessed against such property, and shall be levied and collected in the same manner as a real property tax. The provisions of this subsection are in addition to, not in lieu of, the penalties set forth in § 141-8.
In addition to establishing a lien, the Town may recover such costs and expenses by bringing an action against the owner(s) of the property. The institution of such action shall not suspend or bar the right to pursue any other remedy provided by law for the recovery of such costs and expenses.
Remedies available. Enforcement of an order to remedy by order of the Town Board and enforcement of the order to remedy by the Justice Court are cumulative remedies and are not alternative remedies. The enforcement official and the Town may pursue either or both of the remedies. In addition, nothing contained herein shall be construed to restrict the authority of the enforcement officer or the Town to compel compliance with this chapter or abate a public nuisance by any other lawful process or provision of law.
Emergency measures. If the enforcement official determines that a violation of this chapter causes or may cause imminent danger to occupants of a building, neighboring person(s) or property(ies) or the public, then the Town has authority to and may immediately enter upon the property and take any emergency measures necessary to safeguard the occupants, persons or properties without providing prior notice to an owner. The Town shall provide such written notice and an opportunity for hearing before the Town Board as soon as practicable. The owner shall be subject to the payment of all costs incurred by the Town and to all other requirements and provisions of § 141-7F.
In addition to and not in lieu of any other remedies, any person who violates any provision of this chapter or who violates or fails to comply with any lawful order promulgated hereunder shall be guilty of a violation and, for a first conviction thereof, shall be subject to a fine in an amount not less than $300 nor more than $500 per day of violation or a maximum of 15 days' imprisonment, or both; for conviction of a second violation committed within 12 months of the first violation, such person shall be subject to a fine in an amount not less than $400 and not more than $800 per day of violation or a maximum of 15 days' imprisonment, or both; for conviction of a third violation committed within 12 months of the first violation, such person shall be subject to a fine in an amount not less than $600 and not more than $1,500 per day of violation or a maximum of 15 days' imprisonment, or both; for conviction of a fourth violation and for each subsequent violation committed within 12 months of any prior violation, such person shall be subject to a fine in an amount not less than $1,000 and not more than $2,500 per day of violation or a maximum of 15 days' imprisonment, or both.
Civil penalties and injunction. In addition to and not in lieu of any other remedies, the Town Board may also maintain an action or proceeding in the name of the Town in a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain civil monetary penalties and compel compliance with or to restrain, by injunction, the violation of this chapter or any order promulgated hereunder. The civil monetary penalties shall be in accordance with and not exceed the monetary penalties set forth in § 141-8A of this chapter.
Each calendar day a violation occurs or continues shall constitute and be deemed a separate and distinct violation.
The Building Code Enforcement Officer shall initiate inspections and investigations and shall receive information and complaints concerning compliance with this article. Covering the calendar month preceding the report, he shall submit a written report to the Town Board not later than 12:00 noon of the day on which the first monthly meeting is held, containing not less than the address of and date of each investigation or inspection initiated by him; address of each alleged violation concerning which information or complaints have been received by him; date of such receipt; nature of each violation found or complained of, if any; date of correction notice issued; date(s) of each reinspection; date of filing of a request for arrest warrant with the prosecutor having jurisdiction; disposition of each case closed; and status report of each case. Such report shall include cumulative annual totals of inspections and investigations initiated, information or complaints received, violations noticed for correction with breakdown of such violations by appropriate category, corrections confirmed upon reinspection, warrant requests filed and convictions obtained.