§ 31-1Legislative declaration.
§ 31-3Responsibilities of Public Officer.
§ 31-4Designation of Public Officer.
§ 31-5Complaint; notice of hearing.
§ 31-6Order to repair, vacate or demolish.
§ 31-7Failure to repair or vacate; posting of placard.
§ 31-8Failure to remove or demolish.
§ 31-9Costs of work by Borough.
§ 31-10Conditions determining unfitness.
§ 31-11Service of complaints or orders.
§ 31-12Powers of Public Officer.
§ 31-13Summary proceedings to demolish unsafe buildings.
§ 31-14Effect on other provisions.
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupation of any building or buildings or parts thereof in the Borough of Washington which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use is inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the people of the Borough of Washington and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or parts thereof.
For the purposes of this chapter, the terms used herein are defined as follows:
- 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.[Amended 12-23-1985 by Ord. No. 22-85]
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Mayor and Borough Council of the Borough of Washington.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations or corporations who have interests of record in a building, and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officer who is authorized under this chapter to exercise the powers set forth under this chapter.
Whenever the Public Officer of the Borough of Washington, designated herein, finds that there exists in the Borough of Washington any building or buildings which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation; defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities; lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities; 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 Borough of Washington, the officer designated shall exercise the power vested under the chapter and under its police powers to repair, close or demolish, or cause to be repaired, closed or demolished, such building or buildings, or part thereof, in the manner provided.
The Zoning Officer is hereby designated and appointed as the Public Officer to exercise the powers set forth in this chapter. The Mayor and Borough Council may, by resolution, designate any other person or persons to act in the place of the Zoning Officer.
Whenever a petition is filed with said Public Officer by the Health Officer, Health Inspector, Fire Chief or any other officer in charge of any department of the municipality relating to health, fire, building regulations or activities concerning buildings in the Borough of Washington, or by at least five residents of the Borough of Washington, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the Public Officer that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Public Officer shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, 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 or his designated agent at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint, that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the Public Officer.
If, after notice and hearing, said Public Officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he shall state in writing the findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of said building to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
If the building is in such condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish said building within the reasonable time specified in the order of removal.
If the owner shall fail to comply with the order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the Public Officer may cause such a building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed, and the Public Officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Public Officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished.
The amount of 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 determined in favor of the Borough of Washington, and the cost of any repairs, alterations or improvements or of vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the Public Officer, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, the leveling of the site, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building.
If there are no such credits or if the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Public Officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court. Any owner or party in interest may, within 30 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of money or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
The Public Officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of such municipality; such conditions may include the following:
A complaint or order issued by the Public Officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but, if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Public Officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the Public Officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons shall be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in the Borough of Washington or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in Warren County and circulating in the Borough of Washington. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded for record with the Clerk of Warren County.
The Public Officer, or other official designated under this chapter, may exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to the following powers, in addition to the others herein granted:
To investigate the building conditions in the municipality in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To 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.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under the chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the Public Officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Borough of Washington to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal and abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in this chapter intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act. P.L. 1975, c. 217, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq., or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.