Borough of Wrightstown, NJ
Burlington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Wrightstown by Ord. No. 1990-8 (Sec. 3-18 of the Revised General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 61-1 Specified crime property prohibited.

A. 
It is unlawful for structures to be employed or used as specific crime property within the Borough of Wrightstown. If, pursuant to the procedures contained in this chapter, property is found to be used or employed as such, it is subject to closure for a period of up to one year.
B. 
It is unlawful for any person to employ, use, maintain or allow the employment, use or maintenance of specified crime property under their ownership and/or control by renting it or otherwise suffering others to use it. A person who is found in violation of this subsection shall be subject to civil penalties of up to $500 per day for each day the property has been used as specified crime property, as set forth in § 61-2.
C. 
Use or occupation of specified crime property.
(1) 
Unless vacation of a premises is waived or set aside by the Superior Court, it shall be unlawful for any person to use or occupy any structure determined to be specified crime property after the period prescribed in a notice after service of notice has been made pursuant to § 61-3.
(2) 
The provision of Subsection C(1) may be waived by the borough in the event that the Chief of Police determines that exigent circumstances are such that the use or occupancy of the structure prior to a plenary judicial review is mandated, and not contrary to the public safety.
(3) 
Any occupant who fails to cease the use or occupancy of a structure as required by Subsection C(1) shall be subject to the fines and penalties civil and otherwise provided for violations of this chapter pursuant to a court order after notice and an opportunity to be heard by the court having jurisdiction of an action brought pursuant to this chapter.

§ 61-2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms have the meanings given them in this section.
OWNER
Any person, agent, firm, corporation, association or partnership, including a mortgagee in possession in whom is vested:
A. 
All or part of the legal title to property;
B. 
All or part of the beneficial ownership and a right to present use and enjoyment of the premises; or
C. 
An occupant of the property.
PERSON
Any natural person, association, partnership or corporation capable of owning or using property in the State of New Jersey.
SPECIFIED CRIME PROPERTY
Any structure or place where activity involving the unlawful possession, use, sale, delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance as defined in N.J.S.A. 24:21-35 or 2C:31-3 or their successors has occurred or is occurring.
STRUCTURE
Any kind of structure, edifice, building or unit(s) thereof regardless of its commercial, residential or institutional use, including apartment units, rental units, garages or common areas, exterior or interior.

§ 61-3 Procedure.

A. 
When the Chief of Police has determined that a structure has been or is being used or maintained in violation of § 61-1, the Chief of Police shall request the Borough Solicitor to commence proceedings to cause the closure of the structure unit or area as well as the imposition of civil penalties against any or all of its owners.
B. 
The Chief of Police shall notify the owners of record in writing that the structure has been determined to be specified crime property. The notice shall contain the following information:
(1) 
The street address and a legal description sufficient for identification of the premises on which the structure is located.
(2) 
A statement that the Chief of Police has found the structure to be in violation of this chapter with a concise description of the conditions leading to his/her findings.
C. 
A copy of the notice shall be served on the owner, resident, manager and/or agent at least 10 days prior to the commencement of any judicial action by the borough. Service shall be made either personally or by mailing a copy of the notice by registered or certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt requested, to each person at their address as it appears on the last equalized assessment of the tax rolls as well as the last instrument of conveyance as recorded in the County Clerk's office and available in the Assessor's office.
D. 
A copy of the notice shall also be served on the occupants of the structure. Service of this notice shall occur not less than five days prior to the commencement of any judicial proceedings and be made either personally or by mailing a copy of the notice by first class mail, postage prepaid, to them at the structure. Furthermore, a copy of the notice shall be posted at the property if 10 days has elapsed from the service or mailing of the notice to the owner(s) without return proof of receipt.
E. 
The failure of any person or owner to receive actual notice of the determination by the Chief of Police shall not invalidate or otherwise affect the proceedings under this chapter unless, and to the extent it shall be determined that the deprivation of notice substantially interfered with the owner's liability to abate any nuisance within the time period prescribed.
(1) 
Concurrent with the notification procedures set forth above, the Chief of Police shall then request the Borough Solicitor to commence civil proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction seeking the closure of the structure as well as the imposition of civil penalties against any or all of the owners thereof, and any such other relief as may be deemed appropriate.
(2) 
Nothing contained in Subsection E(1) above shall be construed to limit the ability of the Chief of Police prior to the institution of judicial proceedings to enter into agreements with an owner willing to voluntarily abate the condition(s) giving rise to the violation.

§ 61-4 Commencement of actions; burdens of proof; defenses; mitigation of civil penalty.

A. 
Except in a proceeding under § 61-5, after the commencement, but prior to the trial of an action brought by the borough pursuant to this chapter, an owner specifically commits in an enforceable manner to pursue a course of action which is calculated to abate the conditions giving rise to the violation(s), the borough shall agree to stay proceedings for a period of not less than 10 nor more than 60 days. The owner or the Borough Solicitor may thereafter petition the court for such additional periods of time as may be necessary to complete the action(s) contemplated by the stipulation. However, in the event that the Borough Solicitor reasonably believes the owner is not diligently pursuing the action(s) contemplated by the stipulation, he or she shall then apply to the court for a release from the stay seeking relief as is deemed appropriate.
B. 
In all actions seeking the closure of a structure as appropriate, and shall cite those found applicable:
(1) 
The actions taken by the owner(s) to mitigate or correct the problem at the structure.
(2) 
The financial condition of the owner.
(3) 
Whether the problem at the structure was repeated or continuous.
(4) 
The magnitude or gravity of the problem.
(5) 
The economic or financial benefit accruing or likely to accrue to the owner(s) as a result of the conditions at the structure.
(6) 
The cooperativeness of the owner(s) with the borough.
(7) 
The cost of the borough of investigating and correcting or attempting to correct the conditions.
(8) 
Any factor deemed by the Borough Solicitor to be relevant and worthy of consideration by the court.

§ 61-5 Closure during pendency of action.

In the event that it is determined that the structure is an immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare, the Borough Solicitor shall apply to the court for such interim relief that is deemed to be appropriate. In such event, the notification procedures set forth in § 61-3A and the limitation of § 61-4A need not be complied with.

§ 61-6 Enforcement of closure order, costs; civil penalty.

A. 
In the event that a structure constitutes specified crime property as defined in this chapter, the Borough Solicitor shall pursue on notice to all tenants affected and all lien holders of record, in addition to all other remedies, an order of the Superior Court that it or any unit or area of it be closed for any period of up to one year and that the owner(s) pay to the borough a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day the owner had knowledge of activities or conditions at the structure constituting a violation of this chapter and failed to undertake or maintain efforts of abatement. In the event that the enforcement of this chapter requires an owner to institute tenancy eviction or partition proceedings it shall be the duty of all appropriate officials of the Borough of Wrightstown to provide testimony or evidence in said cause.
B. 
The Borough Solicitor may also seek orders authorizing the borough or ordering the owner to physically secure the structure against use or occupancy in the event that the owner(s) fail to comply with the other remedies agreed to or ordered by the court within the time specified. In the event that the borough is authorized to secure the property, all costs reasonably incurred by the borough to effect a closure shall be made an assessment lien upon the property.
C. 
In the event that the owner violates the terms of the stipulation, the borough may thereafter apply to the court for an order awarding up to the entire amount of the aforementioned bond to the borough as a penalty as well as such other relief, including closure for any additional period of up to one year, that is deemed by the court as appropriate.